Waynesboro has two wards with seats on the ballot Nov. 8 for Waynesboro City Council and the Waynesboro School Board.
Residents in Ward C and D will vote for local races, but residents citywide will not have a say in these elections as in years past. Mandated by a new state law, only people who live in a ward will vote for candidates in that ward.
In Ward C, City Council incumbent Bobby Henderson is not running for re-election. Kenneth “Kenny” Lee and Republican nominee Jeremy Sloat are running for the Council seat. Debra Freeman-Belle is on the ballot unopposed for School Board.
In Ward D, incumbent Sam Hostetter will face Republican nominee Jim Wood for the City Council seat. Kathryn Maneval and Republican Amber Lipscomb are on the ballot for School Board.
All Waynesboro voters in all wards will also have the opportunity to vote in the Sixth District House of Representatives race choosing between incumbent Republican Ben Cline and Democratic challenger Jennifer Lewis.
Elections for Waynesboro City Council and Waynesboro School Board have traditionally been on the ballot in May, but due to the actions of the Virginia General Assembly, city elections are now in sync with national elections in November.
Another change is that due to redistricting, a number of voters in Waynesboro have had their wards moved. New voter cards were mailed to residents impacted by the Census.
The Ward A polling place has also been moved to Wenonah Elementary School.
A sample ballot for each ward for Waynesboro residents is available online here.
In Ward C, Kenny Lee wants to make sure city employees are properly compensated.
“I had a conversation with the chief of police,” Lee said in an interview with Augusta Free Press. “They train these men and women, and then they complete their three-year commitment, and then a lot of them leave, for better pay or whatever the case may be.
“We need to fill those vacancies, but more importantly, we need to find ways so that we can retain those people and move them into leadership positions.”
He also talked specifically about public works employees.
“They do a great service for us,” he said. “We need to make sure our pay is competitive so they can afford to live here,” he said. “I was told that some of our city workers are making $11 an hour now. I don’t see how anyone can live off that.”
Other priorities for Lee include homelessness, funding for schools, school construction and community block grants.
He also believes there should be more diversity on Council and in city jobs.
“There should be people that look like me on City Council,” said Lee, who is African American.
In a city with a 20 percent minority population, the current council is all Caucasian.
Lee will face Republican nominee Jeremy Sloat for the Ward C seat.
The Waynesboro Republican Committee said in its announcement of nominees for City Council that Sloat is a “strong conservative” who fully supports low taxes, the constitutional rights of all Waynesboro residents and responsible fiscal spending that encourages community development and attracting businesses to invest long-term in Waynesboro.
Debra Freeman-Belle is on the ballot unopposed for School Board.
She said in an interview with Augusta Free Press that the challenges in the last two years gave her opportunities to learn and to see challenges in a new way than she did before.
“I think that we’ve made a lot of progress with our building renovations and teacher compensation,” Freeman-Belle said of why she is running this year. She wants to see the results of the School Board’s work that started during her first term, as well as be present to witness the social and emotional impact the pandemic may have on Waynesboro students.
If re-elected, Freeman-Belle is focused on renovations at Berkeley Glenn Elementary School and continuing renovations at Waynesboro High School. She wants to “continue moving them forward,” and continue building relationships with city officials to work together for students.
Incumbent Sam Hostetter sees himself as a consensus builder on Council.
He said he thinks it’s important to keep politics out of local elections.
“My opponent is sponsored by a political party,” he said in an interview with Augusta Free Press. “I think that running as an independent for local office is a better path to the future. I don’t think we need to have national politics trying to intervene in local issues. I’m hoping folks will respect that.
“I like to say I’m an independent voice for an independent Waynesboro because I think that’s an important component of where we are now and where I hope to see us going.”
Hostetter took office in 2018 – before COVID-19. However, his day job as a doctor proved critical for planning and leadership in the City – giving updates to citizens at most meetings since 2020 involving vaccines and where Waynesboro stood in the pandemic.
He said Council is on a path to enact pay increases for employees now that the city is recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic.
“We are now bringing that back to fruition, and we’ve put that into the budget,” he said. “And we’re actually talking about whether we can expand the increase in compensation and try to enact a plan a little more quickly that we thought we could.”
He would like to remain on Council to see some projects completed in the city that he supports – projects like Sunset Park and the Natural History Museum.
“Hopefully, within a couple of years, there’ll be groundbreaking and perhaps before I end my second term, we will be having an opening for the Natural History Museum downtown. You know, those are all things that I’m proud of,” Hostetter said.
His vision for the city includes building on the location and creating a good quality of life for all residents.
“Our community has seen a lot of growth for folks that are working elsewhere. I don’t think that’s a surprise because we are an affordable and comfortable community. I think making sure folks that are living in Waynesboro enjoy playing and having fun in Waynesboro and enjoy living here.”
Hostetter faces conservative and Republican nominee Jim Wood, who has received endorsements from Trumpist conservative Sen. Amanda Chase (who plans to introduce a bill in the Virginia General Assembly to ban all abortions in January) and Congressman Ben Cline (who will not accept the 2020 election results and has not condemned the actions of citizens who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C.)
Wood’s Facebook page shares concerns for so-called Critical Race Theory and leftist indoctrination in the school system. His page hosts endless video rants with Trump-style bravado in his “Conservative Conversations” videos, and some of his shared posts are flagged for sharing false information.
His Facebook page on Jan. 6, 2021, reads: “There is enough people gathered in DC currently to fix the problem…just sayin’ – and he shared a video from Newsmax on Jan. 7, 2021, calling the insurrection “fake news” and added his own comments: “a complete set-up.”
Kathryn Maneval is seeking her fifth term on the Waynesboro School Board. She currently serves as vice chair of the School Board.
Maneval, in an interview with Augusta Free Press, said she believes her institutional knowledge of Waynesboro’s school system is “really beneficial to the School Board to continue helping the schools.”
Among her priorities are school safety and the mental health of children in the school system.
She also wants to ensure teachers and staff at schools are paid well so the system retains qualified teachers and staff.
“We just got to make sure we can continue to compensate our teachers and staff competitively and retain them,” Maneval said.
Amber Lipscomb is challenging Maneval for her Ward D seat on the School Board.
Lipscomb, a former Waynesboro school teacher, currently teaches online for Virtual Virginia. She is supported by the Waynesboro Republican Committee.
- Waynesboro Voter Guide: Big changes ahead for city voters on Election Day
- Ward C candidate Kenny Lee: ‘There should be people that look like me on City Council’
- Waynesboro: Sam Hostetter aims to be an independent voice, consensus builder in Ward D
- Freeman-Belle seeks second term on Waynesboro School Board
- Fifth term is a charm: Maneval runs for re-election on Waynesboro School Board
- Maneval and Freeman-Belle run for re-election to Waynesboro School Board
- Waynesboro Education Association backs Kathe Maneval, Sam Hostetter in city elections
- The Sixth District needs a fighter in Congress: We need Jennifer Lewis
- Our votes in Waynesboro: Lee, Hostetter for City Council, Maneval for School Board