No cakewalk for us

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

At least one AFP reader doesn’t agree with me that it’s all that bad that the power players in a political group that backed the successful candidates in our recent elections don’t live in Waynesboro.

“If they have business interests in the city, I think that gives them a reason to have in interest in the politics of the city,” D Rodgers wrote in a comment attached to my Fear and Loathing column from yesterday, “Things that make you go ...”.

“These folks own property or run business within the city limits, generating tax revenue for the city, yet have no voice in electing the people that make the decisions that could impact their business,” Rodgers wrote.

And in so doing raised a good point. I remember having an exchange in the comments section on an AFP story back during the campaign with a city business owner/county resident, Brett Hayes, who raised a similar point, and agreeing with Hayes, as I do with Rodgers, that people who own businesses in the city and live outside the city limits have every right to have interests in the city’s elections.

But the efforts of the group led by Afton resident Roger Willets and Augusta County resident Dave Wolfe go a bit beyond having an interest in the city elections. According to what city resident John Lawrence told me last week, he was actively recruited and interviewed by the group as a possible candidate for the Ward B seat on city council. Now, think about what’s being said there. We’re not talking about a group that is looking for somebody to support from the sidelines. We’re talking money to run a campaign, and I imagine other logistical support, given that the core of this group has been doing this kind of thing for years in Waynesboro.

To be clear, I’m not insinuating that there’s anything sinister simply in a group that is led by people who live outside the city trying to get a favored candidate elected to office. As I said above, I still believe they have every right to do what they want to do in light of how they have obvious interests as people doing business in the city. But we Waynesboro residents also have a right to know these people are, and more importantly what their motives are.

From Mr. Lawrence’s telling of his story, their motives in this election were clear. They wanted to fire the city manager. It is interesting that neither they nor their surrogates running as candidates on their behalf made this known publicly in advance of the election, even as they were well aware of their own plans to meet with the city manager to make this clear to him in the days following the election. And therein lies the rub.

The people of Waynesboro don’t get to go home at the end of the day to another locality that provides adequately for its school system, that values its infrastructure, and is willing to make necessary improvements in a timely (i.e. not 10 years after the state so orders) manner, that staffs its fire department and police department according to nationally accepted standards.

This is where we live; we can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

If the group that is now in effective control of our city had been transparent about what they wanted done, and the voters had endorsed their candidates, hey, that’s politics. But they weren’t, and now we have to slog through four years of whatever else we don’t know about what they want to do to our Waynesboro before we can change things for the better.

I’m going to be blunt about this. As someone who hangs his hat every night in Waynesboro before getting to sleep, this royally sucks.


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