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Wanda Goforth is the new member of the Colonial Beach Town Council.
BY REBECCA J. BARNABI
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Even though 2012 was an election year for five of the seven seats on the Colonial Beach Town Council, the council begins the new year with only a few changes.
Mike Ham moves up from councilman to mayor, while four incumbents on the November ballot all won re-election. The new face on the council is a woman who has never served in a local elected position.
Although Wanda Goforth, 68, was warned by a neighbor not to get involved with the challenges that local politics bring when she moved to town in 2006, she soon started attending Town Council meetings.
At some point, Mayor Fred Rummage began calling her "the town crier" because she carried town news back and forth. She also tried to get residents to come to council meetings and give their input as much as possible.
Goforth said she had been asked to run for council in the past and declined, but she decided to get into the race in November because the council included "like-minded" people she believes she can work with.
"This time, I felt that there was real hope for the town and that I could make a difference," Goforth said.
She was the only newcomer who ran in November, and she was elected with 621 votes.
Karen Payne was the last woman to serve on the council, and she stepped down in November 2011. Before that, Colonial Beach Tourism Council Chairwoman Trish King served on the council and as vice mayor.
Goforth was born and raised in Alexandria with three brothers, who are now deceased, and two sisters. Her father was a truck driver.
She has a grown son in Indiana and another in Lake Anna, and a daughter who is a law-enforcement official in Albemarle County.
Goforth retired in 2005 after a career that began as a secretary with the federal government and included a stint with the National Park Service and 10 years as vice president and then president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
She chose Colonial Beach as her new home.
"I love it here," Goforth said. "I really do. I call it a quirky little town, and it is."
While serving as a facility management assistant with the National Park Service, Goforth worked on wildfires, the recovery effort after the Columbia space-shuttle disaster and the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She said her work with the Park Service's maintenance division prepared her to handle the utilities issues of a small town.
A grandmother of two, Goforth said she tends to side with the underdog, which is why she got involved with the government employees union, why she began attending Colonial Beach council meetings and why she decided to run for council.
She said she is concerned about how the town spends its tax dollars. She said many older, longtime residents cannot afford increases in their water bills or taxes. She said they need tax relief instead.
Goforth supports developing the Potomac River boardwalk, but opposes selling town land, an opinion she has expressed at council meetings and at a candidates forum in October.
Goforth, who owns a 1934 Plymouth, organized the town's Father's Day car shows until 2011. She also helps put on country and bluegrass music events every third Saturday at the Colonial Beach Lions Club.
She thinks Colonial Beach should market itself as an arts-and-crafts town. She wants the town to attract more business and tourism, and thinks the key is for employees to be friendlier to residents and visitors.
"It's not even customer service; it's customer attitude," Goforth said.