IN AN INTERVIEW MONDAY EVENING: “No one sought me out” to run said Sam Rasoul. Those he spoke to “outlined the pros and cons” of his decision to run for Mayor, he said. Some were worried about it upsetting the Democratic council’s status quo. “I really had to think long and hard about that … This is not an anti-David campaign.”
Mayor David Bowers’ reaction to Rasoul’s announcement last week was one of acceptance. He said, “I get challenges every day and this is just another interesting challenge I’ve got to deal with.” It is up the public on who they want as Mayor and “I’ve always found Roanokers to take that very genuinely.”
Some have questioned Rasoul’s recent move from Botetourt County to Roanoke City. Rasoul confirmed his move from a Botetourt County rental to a Glade Creek apartment in the city’s Wildwood community. He lives there with his wife Layaly and two young daughters, Jennah and Amirah.
He has lived in the Roanoke Valley since age three where he attended Greenvale School, a non-profit childcare center in Northwest Roanoke. After graduating from Roanoke College with a Business Administration degree in 2002 he completed a Masters degree at Hawaii Pacific University with a focus on International Business.
Rasoul now 30 said though many of his friends left Roanoke after school he “chose to stay and contribute to an area that has blessed him with so much.”
At age 27 he ran as a Democrat against Bob Goodlatte (R-6) in 2008 and though he lost garnered 53% of the vote in Roanoke City.
Since then Rasoul has sold his video store and other smaller business ventures but still owns the Lamplighter Mall. His wife had helped run those businesses but now the two young children keep her busy he said.
In 2009 he became the Chief Financial Officer at Kissito Healthcare headquartered at Valleypointe. They provide post-acute care for the elderly funded by private and government grants. They also partner with the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia and Uganda. The PACE approval received from the state last year is a program that emphasizes keeping the elderly well.
“During these economic times Roanoke cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
With his financial skills he said he would make sure that “every dollar is spent as wisely as possible.” He believes Roanoke taxpayers expect it – it will only get harder.
With budget constraints coming from Richmond and Washington D.C. “we’re going to need some strong leadership to make sure we watch every single dollar.”
Bringing jobs to Roanoke means going to Richmond and the Virginia Department of Economic Development Partnership and advocating for why jobs should come to Roanoke. “The Governor only cares about bringing jobs to Virginia to make themselves look good … but who’s making the case for Roanoke?” asked Rasoul.
“The Mayor through that leadership really sets that tone … there is a lot more the city could be doing to make Roanoke a formidable regional player to attract more jobs.”
Rasoul said that Roanoke City’s legislators if asked, “probably expect more of [Roanoke’s] legislative agenda.”
At a breakfast with Delegate Onzlee Ware Rasoul sought Ware’s advice. He later met with Mignon Chubb-Hale, a big long-term care and geriatric advocate he said. Some influential Democrats believe in “not ruffling any feathers” but Ware was encouraging said Rasoul.
Rasoul says that education will be another high focal point for attracting business. “Our students are competing globally and our country has fallen way behind. Education is the only equalizer – so it is important that we maximize every tax dollar spent on education.”
He plans to spend much of his time listening to Roanokers and learning more about their thoughts on improving the city.
Councilman Sherman Lea said in a phone call that he thinks the Mayor needs to be vigilante – “[Rasoul] has shown through the last election that he beat Bob Goodlatte in the city. I’m surprised by it but I hope that nobody would underestimate him. That’s the thing about politics – you can’t underestimate your opponent.”
Lea again reiterated that he is not running for Mayor and will seek another term for city council. The firehouse primary will be in February at William Fleming High School.
Rasoul will formally announce his candidacy after the first of the year.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Election 2012, Elections, Politics, Roanoke City Politics
Tags: Council_elections, democrat, Election 2012, Elections, Mayor_Bowers