Friday, December 4, 2009

Mayor will attend Democratic committee reorganization

Bowers in the "Catbird Seat"

Bowers in the "Catbird Seat"

Finally pinned down Mayor David Bowers said Thursday that he plans to attend the December 10 reorganization of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee. He will vie for a precinct captain slot in his Jefferson 2 precinct.

The by-laws were changed at the last Democratic committee meeting reducing membership from over 100 to 60 (not counting about 15 ex-officios). Eleven districts were combined into six. Bowers precinct is now in what is called “East” consisting of Tinker, Jefferson 1 and 2, and Jefferson-Riverdale. Jefferson 2 and Jefferson-Riverdale were in the “Southeast” district now eliminated as far as the committee is concerned.

None of the combinations change voting districts – this was done for party purposes only. Evelyn Powers, City Treasurer said it was enacted in an effort to fulfill quorum requirements. Even with the quorum requirement reduction from 40% to 30% in an earlier by-laws amendment the committee seldom had sufficient attendance at meetings to conduct business.

Bowers who has been defeated in multiple Democratic elections and primaries finally won back the “catbird seat” running as an independent in 2008. He soundly defeated incumbent Nelson Harris who ran as a Democrat.

In 2006 Bowers along with former council member William (Bill) White, Sr. and former state Senator Granger MacFarlane ran for Council as Democrats but were defeated by the “For the City” independent ticket of Gwen Mason, David Trinkle and Alfred Dowe, Jr.

Bowers at Fire Station No. 1 Election Eve

Bowers at Fire Station No. 1 Election Eve

In a contentious battle over control of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee Bowers ran for Chair of the Committee at the 2007 reorganization. He was defeated and the committee became divided. Granger MacFarlane and wife Ann, Mayor Bower’s mother Mary were not voted in as members of their districts. Sore feelings have persisted ever since. Bowers said his mother is waiting to be invited. Bowers’ mother is a member of the Roanoke Valley Democratic Women’s club.

Also at the last committee meeting Chair Tony Reed attempted to “expel” members Mark Powell, Martin Jeffrey and Valerie Garner. It came as a surprise considering the reorganization was about to take place. Powell who was present had some discussion back and forth with Reed. The meeting was abruptly terminated by a member’s motion to adjourn. According to Powell he was making a case for his party loyalty.

Members when asked about the “expulsion” dismissed it as a personal matter for Reed who felt unwarranted harassment by Powell. Powell at one point charged Reed with simple assault in an altercation at the Municipal building over document disclosure. The charges were later dismissed. Powell served as Martin Jeffrey’s campaign manager challenging incumbent Delegate Onzlee Ware. Ware handily won the Democratic June primary.

Commonwealth attorney Don Caldwell will become chair at the reorganization. Though he steered the city committee ship the past two years conflicts of interest arose. Caldwell recused himself in the case brought against former Council member Brian Wishneff due to his involvement in the Roanoke City Democratic Committee.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Elections, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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