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Waynesboro City Council: What we’re thinking as May 19 approaches

waynesboroWaynesboro residents are being asked to make choices regarding the near-term future against a backdrop of an uncertain present reality.

Gov. Ralph Northam is now indicating that he plans to begin relaxing his lockdown of the state beginning on Friday, May 15, in a series of steps that could have things somewhat back to what we had known for time immemorial to be normal maybe by the early summer.

The impact of the lockdown, now in its eighth week, will be felt for months and perhaps years afterward, by the nearly half a million Virginians who have filed unemployment claims, and by cities and counties left scrambling to balance local budgets in the wake of dramatic reductions in sales-tax collections, a key and usually reliable source of local revenues.

This is the backdrop as voters in localities across the Commonwealth will be filling local leadership posts in elections on Tuesday, May 19, four days into the slow reopening of the state.

It will be a local election unlike any other before or after, in Waynesboro and elsewhere.

You can expect the vast majority of votes to be cast by mail, and the early indication is that the turnout in the Waynesboro race, if you can call voting by mail turnout, will be in line with past cycles, based on the message from the elections office that more than 1,400 absentee ballots had already been requested as of Monday.

A normal cycle would have roughly 2,500 people from the city’s 13,000 or so registered voters deciding who will lead us into the future.

Not casting aspersions here on how pitiful that is, that we’re lucky most years to bother 20 percent of us to vote on who decides things for us, like whether or not we should lay off teachers or hire more, to make sure that bridges that aren’t safe actually get fixed, that dangerous intersections adjacent to an elementary school and a retirement community get some kind of traffic-controlling measures put in place before the end of time.

If the numbers continue to trend the way they are now, we should get the 2,500 or so that vote every other May back in the mix.


For those who haven’t already mailed their votes in, please pardon us, but we have some thoughts on how you might want to think about filling in the ovals.

We need steady hands to keep Moving Waynesboro Forward.

Apologies. That was my campaign slogan way back in 2008 when I ran for City Council. And lost, miserably.

I tried.

The ballot this year features two incumbents, Mayor Terry Short, running for the at-large seat, and Bruce Allen, running for a fourth term in Ward B.

Short is an obvious choice for a second term. A senior planner with the Virginia Department of Transporation, Short is the kind of person you need in the room where it happens. We need people who think logically, think long-term, think inside and outside the box.

Allen, I’m a bit ambivalent on, but one thing he has going for him is experience. He also has ties to the do-nothing years as Frank Lucente’s lieutenant, but it could be that we maybe need someone with a bent toward fiscal restraint representing that viewpoint as we try to navigate our way through the next couple of budget years.

In Ward A, we’re siding with Kanise Marshall, a vibrant young woman with an MBA in risk management, a deep background in business and the energy and fresh perspective that we need to meet the challenges of the present and the near-term future.

Short and Marshall, certainly, deserve your votes. We’ll stop short of making a call in Ward B, but we can see a scenario where Allen can be an asset moving forward.

And that’s where the focus needs to be – moving forward.

Story by Chris Graham