Longtime Staunton resident and public servant John Avoli will seek the Republican nomination for the House District 20 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. His official announcement is set for Saturday morning at 10:00 on the steps of the Augusta County Courthouse in downtown Staunton.
Well-known for his years of service in the area, both in elected office and in educational capacities, Avoli’s outgoing personality make him a favorite in the community with a reach that stretches far beyond Staunton.
Avoli’s record of service is extensive. He served an unprecedented 14 years as mayor of Staunton in the central Shenandoah Valley (16 years on city council spanning from 1990-2006). During that time he was at the front of revitalizing downtown Staunton into an arts and vacation hub, attracting new businesses, advocating for the renovation of the Stonewall Jackson Conference Center, and attracting the American Shakespeare Theater with its unique built-to-the-original Blackfriars Theater.
His vivacious energy and outgoing personality were on display during his years in downtown Staunton and while guiding visitors at the Frontier Culture Museum.
In a press release, Avoli commented, “I have worked tirelessly for residents in the city of Staunton and have been very successful in improving the city and quality of life for city residents. I know I can do the same in Richmond and am excited to work just as hard for all the citizens in the 20th District.”
The press release continued:
Avoli’s career as a public school educator prepares him to serve the citizens of District 20. He was principal/director of Valley Vocational Technical Center for 14 years, and also served as a teacher and coach at Wilson Memorial High School, and principal of Stuarts Draft High School from 1983-88.
“It was a privilege to have served as a coach, teacher and administrator for nearly 30 years,” Avoli said. “It is very rewarding to see former students successfully employed in our community and raising their families.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Richmond in 1974, and a master’s in education and administration from the University of Virginia in 1977.
Most recently, Avoli spent 15 years as the executive director of the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.
Avoli is a native of Trivigliano, Italy, and came to the United States with his family in 1960 at age 10. He considers himself a true representation of the American Dream.
He is married to Lynn LaBonte Avoli. They are the parents of two grown children and have five grandchildren.
When the 20th District was carved out of Augusta, Staunton, and surrounding areas in 2002, the first to represent it was former delegate, Chris Saxman, who held the position from 2002 until he retired in 2010. He was followed by current Del. Dickie Bell who has represented the district from 2010 until now, and who announced his retirement on December 29.
The 20th House District includes the cities of Waynesboro and Staunton, all of Highland County, and parts of Augusta and Nelson counties.
Cover photo: Executive Director John Avoli at Frontier Culture Museum (photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)