Substantive change coming in Waynesboro: Probably not

waynesboroSam Hostetter and Bobby Henderson were the big winners in the 2018 Waynesboro City Council elections on Tuesday.

Leading to the question: does who won matter in the long run? Probably not.

The political coalition headed by former Vice Mayor Frank Lucente had backed Henderson in the three-way Ward C race. Henderson and Lucente acolyte Bruce Allen, the sitting mayor, hold two of the council’s seats, with Ward A City Councilwoman Elzena Anderson and Vice Mayor Terry Short holding the other two seats.

Short, at least nominally, is outside the Lucente sphere of influence, as is Hostetter, but the jury is very much still out as to how they will view public-policy issues in Waynesboro when the new City Council is seated on July 1.

The Lucente era, dating back to his appointment to City Council in 2005 to fill the unexpired term of former mayor Chuck Ricketts, has been marked by stringent and often nonsensical across-the-board budget cuts, the controversial multimillion-dollar purchase of property from a political supporter for an industrial park that still sits fallow, and an economic-development department reeling from the move by city leaders to renege on a decade-old performance agreement with the Wayne Theatre.

The 2018 election cycle was devoid of discussion of these, or really any, issues of substance, and just over 2,000 city residents, of the more than 12,500 registered to vote, bothered to cast votes in the election.

Don’t be surprised, then, to see more of the same from the City Council, with the obvious lack of interest of residents, in the face of years of neglect from the city leaders they put in power to act on their behalf.

Waynesboro, in other words, will get what it deserves, which is to say, not much, from its elected government.

Column by Chris Graham

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