The June 13th Republican primary in Roanoke County saw incumbents Jason Peters in the Vinton District and Joseph McNamara (Windsor Hills) reelected by GOP voters.
McNamara has no opposition in the November general election while Peters, elected four years ago to his first term, faces a challenge from Democrat Ben Shepherd. Meanwhile the only incumbent to lose his Republican primary was Hollins District supervisor Al Bedrosian, who will be turned out of office at the end of the year by Phil North.
Bedrosian, a fiscally conservative Republican who also described himself as a devout Christian, often railed against the budget deficit and debt load in Roanoke County, which was also the centerpiece of his primary campaign. In the last few weeks before June 13 he aligned himself with Republican challengers Harry Griego (Vinton) and Scott Faw (Windsor Hills) who also lost their bids.
“I’m really not a politician kind of person,” Bedrosian said on primary night, “I have certain views, things that I think we should be abiding by. The real principles of the Republican party or liberty.”
He was often on the losing end of 4-1 votes when the Board of Supervisors had to make decisions about spending money – but Bedrosian said he felt he had stayed true to his ideals and done everything he could. “I was consistent with what I stood for … I didn’t waver. I did the things I thought were right. So that’s fine.”
Calling it a “great system,” Bedrosian – who won the Republican primary four years ago only when his name was drawn by chance after he had tied in a primary with Mike Bailey – said the voters had spoken.
“No regrets at all, I’m very much at peace with everything that transpired.” Indeed in his first board meeting after the primary loss, Bedrosian spoke again on two favorite themes: how the county spends money, and the need to stop county employee United Way payroll contributions, since some of those funds go to Planned Parenthood.
Bedrosian believes the message about spending he’s preached over the past three-plus years will now “fall on deaf ears. We just like to spend money and go into debt to do things. Really four years ago was probably the first time we really heard about debt in Roanoke County.”
“The people wanted a change,” said North after his victory. The retired Norfolk Southern employee is okay with the county making sound investments in schools and libraries for example, even if it means borrowing money. Bedrosian wanted to have the cash on hand before approving capital projects, a stance other supervisors saw as unrealistic.
Both Peters and McNamara countered that same argument by their primary opponents by pointing to the county’s favorable score by bond rating services, and what they said was a manageable debt load.
Only pressure from Roanoke County citizens will affect change said Bedrosian, who noted that, “people want things. They want us to build these big schools and libraries. The fact that we don’t have any [cash] to do it, they still want them. That’s a tough deal. It’s hard to be disciplined about those things. [The other] supervisors don’t really have the discipline and I don’t think they will [going forward].”