Friday, April 27, 2012

Both mayoral candidates tout support from business – past interview with Mark Lucas

Mark Lucas hints that the mayor's office lacks vision and leadership.

According to Mark Lucas’ facebook page he has garnered  endorsements from the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors, the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leadership Fund with donations of at least $17,000. Congressman Bob Goodlatte and The Roanoke Times have also endorsed Lucas. All pointed to his plans for entrepreneurial job growth for Roanoke City.

Lucas also says that his campaign has received financial contributions from over 150 individual donors. He said he feels this support will allow him  to effectively compete with his opponent, incumbent Mayor David Bowers who he says has been funded by mostly one patron, Peter Via to the tune of $75,000 in three separate installments.  

David Bowers

Bowers said at a fundraiser Thursday evening that Peter Via told him in a phone call that he was “steady at the helm” and that along with council has accomplished a successful record of economic development. At the press conference Thursday Bowers asked again, “is Roanoke better off now then we were four years ago. I think everybody says yes.” The second question said Bower is “with whom is Roanoke going to be better off for the next four years – with someone who is untried and untested or someone who is tried and true and has a record of accomplishment, knows the issues and is there with energy and experience to move Roanoke forward in the future.”

Bowers has touted his number of donors at 150 at last count with business support from Warner Dalhouse, Bittle Porterfield, Jay Turner, former state Senator Granger McFarlane and CPA William White, Sr. and board member at Carilion.

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Feb. 14 – Republican mayoral candidate sees opening for proactive leadership:

 Mark Lucas, 47 had a political gleam in his eye in March of 2009. It was evident as he scurried around Chris Head’s Home Instead office. Head was announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the 17tth House of Delegates. Head came in second to Bill Cleaveland in a five-way primary. Cleaveland resigned after one term and Head is now representing the 17th HOD district.

I asked Lucas at the time why he wasn’t running for the office. He certainly had the energy and I mistook him for the candidate when entering Head’s office. Lucas said he had been asked to enter the race by retiring Delegate William Fralin. He hinted that maybe someday but business and family was keeping him busy – the time was just not right he said.

With that bit of history one can see it is no surprise that he is the mayoral candidate that the Republican City Committee Chair, Chris Walters was courting in early January. Walters convinced him “the time was right.”

Delegate Chris Head took time from the 2012 session to praise his friend of 15 years who he had worked with at Xerox. “I know him to be extraordinarily thorough, competent, professional, ethical and above all, principled. He knows how to get things done, how to successfully manage organizations, and how to move efficiently toward a goal.”

He and his wife, Wendy a physical therapist co-own Lucas Therapies, PC. He proudly announced as a former partner of KMS Holdings that Five Guys Burgers and Fries would reopen soon in Tanglewood Mall. Provox Technologies was acquired by another company in 2002 after the voice recognition documentation system won the Microsoft product of the year award in 2001.

His other venture Flypaper Inc. places non-profit backgrounds on smartphone screens. Another startup is DermRX, a veterinary product that has recently received its first contract he said. One company never got off the ground, the ConBrio Systems became extinct as the market for the product disappeared. 

Lucas says he has created 400 jobs in the last 10 years and knows how to attract and retain quality people.

Lucas graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and public relations. His two daughters Claiborne 17 and Calleigh 15 sat in the front row with 30 other supporters at the Patrick Henry Hotel Monday. Both attend Patrick Henry High School.

Adam Boitnott introduces Mark Lucas.

A friend sent him an article titled “The city as a startup – the rise of the mayor entrepreneur.” “It flipped a switch for me … it covered things we should be doing in Roanoke,” he said.

“I’m not a politician – I’m not doing this for my ego and I’m not doing this as a stepping stone to a political career,” said Lucas. He wants to see Roanoke operate more like a startup company and create an environment where local businesses can thrive.

Lucas proposed that businesses get involved in mentoring programs in support of the 70 percent of high school graduates who are not college bound. He advocated for a closer relationship with Virginia Tech’s Corporate Resource Center for entrepreneurs.

“When dealing with city government we’ve got to make sure it is not just a pile of red tape,” said Lucas. He said it took him two years to get approval to expand a parking lot and it cost him as much to garner the approval as it did to pave the parking lot. “That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about … that’s not encouraging economic growth.””

Mark Lucas

We need to quit spending thousands if not millions on outside consultants to do things that we could do ourselves.”

Complacency and inaction in controversial issues “is not good.” Lucas complained about the vacant Riverside property with fields that are poorly maintained and called for additional fields that would bring in tournament play. He lamented over the lack of progress with the Countryside property.

He will differentiate himself from incumbent Mayor David Bowers with his business experience and pro-job acumen.

As examples of entrepreneurship in Roanoke Lucas read off a laundry list of startups from banks to Bubblecake Bake Shop. “We need a mayor who is proactive and not reactive – who is a visionary and not a figurehead … not a career politician,” said Lucas.

Lucas would let the two-cent meals tax sunset and doesn’t foresee a need for adding another tax. “It would be a bait and switch on taxpayers” to continue the meals tax. “It served its purpose … I think it was the right thing to do at the time.”

Lucas daughers talk with Barbara Duerk

When asked if elected how he would get along with the other all Democrat council members he said, “I think we all have the same objective that is to do what is best for the city.” At the local level party label doesn’t mean much he said. For example he said he knows Dave Trinkle and coached his daughter in lacrosse.

Lucas said, “I’m very high energy” as he explained his personality while tapping his foot.

In a call to Mayor Bowers for reaction to his new opposition Bowers said, “ the mayors chair belongs to the people – it’s theirs and they get to decide who’s going to serve them. I accept that premise so it certainly is understandable that the public would look them over … the voters will have to make a prudent and wise decision.”

Bowers in response to Lucas’ job creation message purported that the city has a team already in place for economic development that included the city manager, economic development department and Joyce Waugh at the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a very active professional group that are working very hard to create jobs in Roanoke,” said Bowers.

Bowers said he thought that even the governor would say that the state itself has limitations when competing with North Carolina and South Carolina. “North Carolina seems to have the funding sources to catch the big catch,” said Bowers.

Bowers thought that similar to his primary opponent Sam Rasoul Lucas didn’t understand local government. “We have a city manager form of government.”

Lucas in response said, “I fully understand the City Manager form of government and Chris [Morrill] is a huge asset to our community. As Mayor, I will be an added tool in the City’s arsenal to drive economic development. I would hope that my opponent would think that it is a good use of the mayor’s time to drive employment in the City as well.”

Lucas plans to use social media and a lot of shoe leather to gain name recognition.

The Roanoke City Republican Committee mass meeting will still take place on February 23. Paperwork is ready and chair Chris Walters will function as his campaign manager.

VIDEO in March 2009 CLICK HERE.

Posted By Valerie Garner

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

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