After four years of service including stints as mayor and vice mayor, Terry Short Jr. is hoping for another term on city council’s at-large seat to continue “tremendous progress” and help other city projects cross the finish line.
Short, 46, was first elected to city council in 2016, serving as vice mayor from 2016 to 2018 and mayor from 2018 to present. After being in the city for 15 years, Short says he loves Waynesboro and takes his role of being an advocate for the community seriously.
“In 2016, I ran out of frustration out of many missed opportunities for the city. I think we sort of governed, to a degree, that if we just wished good things to happen that they will. In my experience, that’s not how life works,” said Short, who works for VDOT. “You’ve got to hustle. You’ve got to be an advocate. And I have certainly tried to serve in the way that I would want to be served by an elected official.”
Short has made education a key priority for himself and council, overseeing projects including renovations at Waynesboro High and the Valley Career and Technical Education Center, as well as the creation of the Waynesboro-Augusta Supporting Transition Employment (STEP) Program Learning Lab and Giant Academy.
In addition, a month into his first term on council, Short advocated for Waynesboro to receive funding from the DuPont Plant’s mercury settlement. The city, originally poised to receive no compensation, was granted more than $4 million in settlement monies.
The employee turnover rate at the city’s fire and police departments has also improved since Short’s tenure. In 2016, the fire department’s turnover rate was 28% and now sits at 9%. Similarly, the police department now boasts a 3% turnover rate in comparison to 16% in 2016.
“I’m very proud of the fact that we have made significant movements in the right direction to stop the revolving door in our police department and our fire department,” Short said.
Achievements aside, Short said the city still has work to do, and he hopes another four-year term will allow him to see to it that more projects are completed.
“I look at public service as an urgent matter. Anyone that runs is only guaranteed four years, so my objective is to take my service seriously,” he said. “I am far from perfect, but I have tried to do a good job of being that strong advocate knowing that this is an opportunity to do great things in our community — I don’t want to miss that opportunity.”
In terms of business and the city’s downtown area, Short said the Main Street area is “thriving” largely in part to the Grow Waynesboro program that launched in 2016 as an initiative to find, fund and support new entrepreneurs in the city. In the future, he’d like to see older buildings downtown revitalized.
“What has lingered in our community for a long time is just hoping it would get better. We have leaned in to work cooperatively with property owners to get them to mitigate their buildings,” Short said. “We’ve got some more work to do, but I’m very proud of the energy that our downtown has and what it can mean for not just the core of our city, but all the neighborhoods surrounding it.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city will face greater financial difficulties. Short said he plans to be “mindful” during budgeting and is prepared to re-examine council’s priorities and make hard choices.
“The environment that we’re in will pass, and when it does we need to be advocates for our community and get involved,” Short said. “That’s what I would hope to achieve over the next four years — continuing to communicate, be respectful and mindful of the fragility of our community, and recognizing that in order to do something great, you have to make a decision. I’m ready to make some hard decisions for our community.”