Monday, March 19, 2012

Councilman’s support for Republican candidate becomes common knowledge

Councilman Court Rosen with unsuspecting Mayor David Bowers

On a sunny January day in Lee Plaza six council members clasped hands, raised their arms and declared their fervent support for the incumbent Democratic Mayor David Bowers. It was truly a kumbaya moment for the all Democrat Roanoke City Council.

Bowers dusted off his primary opponent Sam Rasoul on February 4. Little did Bowers know there was another contest lurking around the corner. Up jumped a little known but viable Republican challenger. Mark Lucas quickly became the darling of Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC who forked over $15K to the “jobs creator.” The battle-tested Bowers is determined to protect his “catbird seat” at all cost.

Bowers is best known for his ceremonial roll as Mayor. This to the chagrin of The Roanoke Times editorial board and eagle eye of the city beat reporter perched to pounce on the Mayor at first misstep. Columnist Dan Casey sees to it that he keeps his faithful commenters stirred up into a Bowers feeding frenzy.

Mayor Bowers poses on the GEM round-about

The Roanoke Times just can’t figure out what endears Roanokers to their “Mayberry Mayor.” Bowers will dance, sing and tell corny jokes at the drop of the hat. He never misses a good photo op too. Bowers knows everyone by name including details of their ancestors. Yes, he has an “Irish temper” to which I can attest but it doesn’t last long.

As he won his seat in 2008 as an independent shunned by the Roanoke City Democratic Committee he had good reason to distrust just about everyone. That showed in the first year serving as Mayor.

The Roanoke Times reporter saw news potential when Bowers in sympathy compared the “City Market Mouse Capades” to 9/11. Bowers apologized. He blamed his political enemies for the loss of his secretary. Not only did Bowers suffer with the makeup of the new council but so did Councilman Sherman Lea. He had some heated exchanges with the inexperience young upstart Court Rosen who was elected at the same time.

All settled down with the exit of city manager Darlene Burcham and hire of Chris Morrill. Some say it is too cozy but that has yet to be proven.

With little competition for the three council seats of Rosen, Lea and Anita Price the focus is on the Mayor’s contest. It didn’t take long for the first whisper of a crack in support for Bowers by one council member.

Not only is it a rumor that Councilman Court Rosen is encouraging his South Roanoke friends to vote for Mark Lucas but even a council member admitted to the breach. At this point it is common knowledge to the Bowers campaign.

This isn’t the first time an elected Democrat has encouraged support for a Republican. In 2006 the Independent ”For the City” ticket of Dave Trinkle, Gwen Mason and Alfred Dowe, Jr. was supported by Democratic Delegate Onzlee Ware, Mayor Nelson Harris and Vice-Mayor Bev Fitzpatrick. They faced not only the Democratic ticket of Bowers, Sen. Granger MacFarlane and William White, Sr. but two Republicans. Stuart Revercomb and Mark McConnel were in the race.

Rosen fiddles with his smartphone during candidate forum

Then Councilman Brian Wishneff recruited neighbor McConnel and welcomed support for the two Republicans. The public will never know the full dirt of that election. The 2000 election with Republican Ralph Smith and Independent Mac McCadden knocked Bowers out of the “catbird seat.” Nelson Harris in a 2004 firehouse primary defeated Bowers.

It was Bowers third defeat in 2006 when all three Independents (who later became Democrats) were elected. There is a clear pattern when strong third party candidates get in the mix.

Bowers, like the energizer bunny just kept on running. With mostly his own money and electorates weary of the “backdoor bingo” of Mayor Nelson Harris a stunned Harris was defeated by Bowers in 2008.

At the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League Forum last week Bowers said that Richmond and Washington could take a lesson in congeniality from Roanoke City Council. Maybe Mayor Bowers should look behind him more often and watch out for those knives.

A REAL DEBATE between Bowers and Lucas hosted by the Roanoke Branch of the NAACP will take place on April 17 at the Claude Moore Education Center at 7:00 p.m. with moderator Jay Warren.

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Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2012, Elections, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments (1)

E. Duane Howard

March 19th, 2012 at 10:50 AM    


Though it may not be worth a grain of salt, and because I contribute my educational and common sense intelligence to having grown up reading the newspapers. I was of course very naive, for I used to believe in my earlier days one could believe what that read in the paper. That changes quickly when they start writing about me. Then you realize how wrong they can get things, but facts are facts, and the media here in Roanoke seems to have some undisclosed vote count that if you don’t achieve that number you are written off as having never run for office. The Roanoke Times has done this to a number of minor candidates like myself over the years. But, to set the record straight, there were four candidates for Mayor in 2000, one of them being myself. It was a four way race until the votes were counted.

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