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Well-deserved pat on the back

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

“I want you to know that I think you’re doing a good job.”


A simple way to begin a conversation that spoke volumes about where things are going in Waynesboro these days.

I ran into Tim Williams the other day at the YMCA. OK, to put it more accurately, Tim Williams ran into me, or rather ran out to the parking lot to catch me as I was leaving after my morning workout.

We talked about his new position as mayor on the five-member city council, and how he seems to be carving out a niche as the arbiter between two competing political factions, one of which he is ostensibly a part of. “I’m a conservative. Don’t get me wrong. But I want to work with all of the council. The voters elected all of us to represent them, and I think that’s what we need to do,” Williams told me.

The jury is still out on the Williams run as mayor, to be fair, but thus far, Williams has put a stamp on the job that few if any could have foreseen, including, I’m guessing, the person who engineered his ascension to the post, Vice Mayor Frank Lucente, who has been rebuffed on two occasions by Williams on issues involving the oversight of financial matters by city council and this week on Lucente’s natural aversion to thinking more than a few minutes ahead of where we happen to be at any given point in time.

I’ve been most interested in how Williams let the debates on both of those matters play out. In both, Williams allowed the council to weigh in at great length on their positions on the issues, both times to date in the form of council members Nancy Dowdy and Lorie Smith setting down their thoughts and Lucente responding, with new councilman Bruce Allen remaining almost Miranda quiet on the sidelines, then jumping in and offering a commonsense solution that everyone ends up agreeing to.

Funny thing about this column is that I wanted to write about this trend last week before Williams and I conversed for maybe 20 minutes in the parking lot at the Y, and then again right after our chat and before Monday night’s work session that featured as its highlight the tete-a-tete over a planning and strategy session.

I think somebody needs to recognize how tough it has to be to be Tim Williams in this polarized environment. It’s tougher still because he has a rooting interest in the outcome, and he’s still trying to play fair.

Kudos, Tim, for a solid first month as mayor.

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