A one-on-one debate between Democratic incumbent Mayor David Bowers and the Republican challenger businessman Mark Lucas will give voters the contrast they need to either “keep a good thing” or “change the role of mayor.”
The debate is Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. with light refreshments at 6:30 p.m. WSLS anchor Jay Warren will moderate the debate at the Claude Moore Education Complex on Henry Street across from the Dumas Center. The Roanoke Branch of the NAACP is hosting the debate.
Bowers leads in fundraising with over $40,000 raised in the period ending March 31 according to Joan Washburn, Bowers’ campaign manager. This is in no small part due to a second donation of $25,000 by Peter Via, a strong conservative Republican. Via’s contributions to Bowers total a hefty $50,000.
According to Washburn “Via is very happy with David as mayor because of his love for the city of Roanoke and he is not using it as a stepping stone to higher office.”
Since the first of the year, that includes the February primary race with Sam Rasoul, Bowers has raised over $70,000 excluding loans to himself. Exact numbers will be reported on April 16 but Washburn said Bowers has over 140 individual contributors. Another fundraising event was held Wednesday night at the O. Winston Link Museum.
Bowers will use mailers, literature drops, radio and cable TV to make his case for why voters should keep the self-proclaimed blue collar mayor for another four-year term.
According to Chris Walters, Mark Lucas’ campaign manager Lucas has 120 individual contributors and will have raised over $50,000. The Virginia State Board of Elections shows one large contribution of $15,000 from the Business Leadership Fund PAC. Walters said Lucas has radio spots and is campaigning door to door.
The forum that was held on March 8 included the three council members and Independent candidate Brian Bushnell. That gave little time for questions between the two mayoral candidates.
Mark Lucas avoided the “ribbon cutting mayor” label and instead talked about being a tool in the city managers arsenal for promoting Roanoke as an entrepreneurial city. Lucas was careful and avoided depicting Bowers’ mayoral style. Instead he mostly affirmed his opponent’s views but thought he could do better when it comes to jobs and growing businesses. Lucas and his wife Wendy own Lucas Therapies and he has started and sold multiple businesses. Lucas proposed an entrepreneurial day in the mayor’s office on the first and third Thursday of every month.
Lucas is mostly campaigning in South and Southwest Roanoke. The Lee-Hi precinct is a bedrock of voter participation. A solid Lee-Hi and South Roanoke precinct win could put Bowers in jeopardy with low turnout in other precincts.
Lucas has taken the offensive with a statement in his robo calls. Besides explaining how he would promote businesses and jobs in the valley he offered a contrast to the current officeholder he concludes the call with “if you want a mayor who can do more than cut ribbons” elect Mark Lucas.Virginia State Senator John Edwards has thrown his support behind Bowers and Congressman Bob Goodlatte has endorsed Mark Lucas.