Home Alice Woods seeks to bring ‘unity of purpose’ to Staunton City Council

Alice Woods seeks to bring ‘unity of purpose’ to Staunton City Council

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Alice Woods is running for one of three seats on Staunton City Council in November’s election.

STAUNTON — Six candidates will contend for three seats on Staunton City Council in November.

Alice Woods was born in New York City and moved to Staunton 36 years ago. About nine years ago, she began to get involved in local politics, but remained in the background. Six years ago, she met a group of ladies who encouraged her to step out in front. She realized she wanted to make a difference in the Queen City and bring a “unity of purpose.”

“From there, my political awareness began to evolve,” Woods said.

Last year, after the renaming of Robert E. Lee High School to Staunton High School in 2019, Woods said that members of the community felt they were not being heard by city council, they were left out of the community, transparency was nonexistent and members of council were not being held accountable. The city lacked a representation of diversity.

“There’s a voice that I knew was missing, and it’s the voice of the citizens. The voice of the community that’s missing from [city council],” Woods said. She would like to be the voice to bridge the gap between the city and the community. “I hope that we can work together toward Staunton’s future,” she said. The future includes all Staunton residents, city council, economic development, zoning commission, everyone.

Woods’ mother grew up in Staunton. She moved to NYC for employment and raised six children. Woods, the youngest of those children, is the only surviving member of her immediate family. Her parents died in the 1980s.

“But, I believe I have a purpose,” she said.

Woods came to Staunton with her two young daughters and soon met the man who would become her husband, Robert Woods II. After a variety of jobs, including assistant manager of the Kentucky Fried Chicken that used to be in Verona and shift work at Little Debbie, Woods said the different opportunities helped her become a better person at leading others. She became a quality control auditor at Alcoa/Plygem.

Later she went into senior caregiving, and became a certified CNA last year.

“That was one of my goals,” she said. She currently performs independent care aid for Brightview Baldwin Park.

If elected, Woods’ goals include affordable housing for Staunton residents, adequate funding for Staunton Schools, and to improve local resources for mental health and substance abuse.

“I’m really passionate about that,” Woods said.

In her work with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Augusta County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Caleb Kramer, Woods hopes to find ways to help community members struggling with substance abuse who have been in jail.

“Maybe people need a second chance,” she said. “Let’s see if we can give them another chance. Maybe people don’t need a felony or thrown in jail because they have an addiction or they have mental health issues.”

Through her work as a senior advocate and working with nonprofits, Woods was led to create her own nonprofit, ParkWoods Foundation, a recovery resource that will some day build houses for women struggling with substance abuse. Eventually, she would like for the nonprofit to also assist men. After her campaign for city council, Woods will establish funding to build houses either in Staunton or Augusta County.

Additionally, if elected, Woods said she will listen to the needs and concerns of residents and determine other goals to be reached as a city council member.

“I love my city,” Woods said. Her daughters graduated Staunton Schools and now three granddaughters attend the school system. One granddaughter already graduated. “I believe that the young people are our future, and we should always look to the young people to what they would want to have going toward their future.” And to keep the future of Staunton in the city, career opportunities must be created to encourage them to stay after high school and college. Staunton Crossing is an example of the city attracting builders to create job opportunities not just for the Interstate 64 and 81 corridor but also “for the residents of Staunton and the surrounding areas.”

Staffing local businesses, especially restaurants, is a challenge right now, but not unique to the city. After the effects of COVID-19, restaurants across Virginia and the country are struggling to hire and retain staff to maintain business hours.

Woods is also concerned about the availability of affordable housing for young Staunton residents. Housing for seniors and low-income is available, but what about for those in between? Single mothers and the new college graduates also need housing options.

Challenges facing the city include what to do about Augusta County’s courthouse.

“Either way, it’s going to cost money,” Woods said.

Another challenge is the communication gap between the community and council members. Woods said that the accessibility of council members is how they will reach the community.

“I hope that I can be that voice for those who don’t know city government or don’t know city council, that I would be able to enlighten them, and they would get involved with their community,” Woods said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.