Waynesboro: Kinder, gentler stagnation on the horizon

waynesboroThe new Waynesboro City Council is now seated, formally, with the annual reorganization meeting Monday morning bringing on Sam Hostetter and Bobby Henderson, who were both elected in the May city elections.

On paper, the newcomers should tilt the balance away from the little-l libertarian clique led by former City Councilman Frank Lucente, a decade of stagnation that saw the city step away from the downtown development effort that it had breathed life to in the 1990s, renege on an economic-development agreement with the Wayne Theatre, and put the city’s future in the big box and chain restaurants that have taken over the Interstate 64/Rosser Avenue/Lew Dewitt Boulevard corridor.

Lucente stepped down from City Council in 2016, and his seat was taken by Terry Short, who was elected mayor at today’s reorganization meeting. Elzena Anderson replaced Tim Williams, a close Lucente ally, in that same 2016 election, and then Sam Hostetter won the seat opened up by the retirement of Pete Marks, another Lucente ally, in the May 2018 cycle.

That’s three of the five seats on the City Council. Bruce Allen, the former mayor, and Bobby Henderson, who was backed by Lucente in his May election challenge to Jeff Freeman, who had been in the Lucente camp himself, hold the other two seats.

Don’t assume right off that this new City Council is going to dramatically reverse course from the Lucente era.

This is still Waynesboro, after all. Short and Hostetter both counted Lucente supporters in their own camps, and Short, you might remember, had enough trust with the first post-Lucente City Council to serve as its vice mayor.

The selection of Henderson as the vice mayor this morning could be another indication of what we can expect in terms of philosophy.

You’d be better off if you expected a kinder, gentler stagnation than anything radical.

Column by Chris Graham

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