Bowers Takes Challenge Seriously

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Mayor David Bowers
Mayor David Bowers

by Valerie Garner

At a fundraiser this week Incumbent Mayor David Bowers told his supporters to tell their friends to, “Vote for someone who can be mayor from day one … the city needs stability and continuity.”  Some supporters then seemed surprised when Bowers later told them that if something were to happen to him any one of the city council members would be prepared to step in as mayor.

Bowers avoided mentioning Sam Rasoul by name but the insinuation was clear that “being mayor from day one” lent itself to a criticism of Rasoul’s age and inexperience in local government.

The fundraiser held at Fork in the City, owned by Vice-Mayor Dave Trinkle, was attended by about 70 people Monday evening.

Bowers took issue with Roanoke coming in second as having the most “sensitive” men (in a recent survey by Chemistry.com) – “how about changing that to having the most “sensible” Roanoke City government.” He praised the “sensible” city manager and the “sensible” city council.

Bowers said that he takes the challenge of his opponent seriously. “It is a real serious threat -nothing is in the bag,” he told the crowd of supporters. He cautioned them to not become complacent.

Bowers said he has heard that his opponent has a large bankroll and a high-powered campaign manager determined “to throw me out of office.” Many of his supporters raised their hand when asked if they had received Rasoul’s robocalls.

“[Rasoul] is going around town with a message that I don’t like and I reject – he’s talking about two Roanokes … that’s in the past,” said Bowers. His message is that there is cooperation and unity at every level in the city including the diverse neighborhoods. Bowers said he will keep a positive tone as he campaigns.

He called his opponent “a charming and nice young man.” Bowers then added that he will not rely on consultants but on the current city council’s support. “We know how to win elections.”

Bowers said he’d match his opponent’s paid staff with volunteers. Later he said that he had raised about $35,000 so far this cycle. He scoffed at the robocalls from Tacoma, Washington saying, “I have telephone calling by the ladies of the Women’s Democratic Club of the Roanoke Valley;” many of whom were in attendance and were delighted with the recognition.

The importance of keeping a cordial city council and mayor in office is the message Bowers will repeat throughout his campaign. He gave accolades to School Board Chairman David Carson who was standing in the back of the room. He touted accreditation of the schools, the 16th year of accreditation of the police department and the reduction in crime for the 6th consecutive year.

Bowers said he is a proponent of preservation. He then pointed out that the preservation of the Jefferson Center has spurred development around it including Fork in the City, the Cotton Mill apartments and renovation of homes in the area. “We want economic development that is smart,” he said.

“Jobs have been created at every level in Roanoke,” said Bowers. Rasoul has been campaigning on the need to bring jobs to Roanoke by engaging state officials in Richmond.

The “BIG MAC” was back. The “M” was for the Market building, the “A” was for the Amphitheater (though scaled down) but Bowers promised the “C” of Countryside was on its way. The city purchased the 140-acre Countryside Golf Club for $4.1 million in 2005 for high-end development that never materialized. “They have as much a right to have a nice neighborhood as you do,” he added.

While attending the Mayor’s conference last week with Vice-Mayor Dave Trinkle he said they agreed that tourism and higher education are the best economic development investments for Roanoke. “We need to do more by bringing law schools or art schools,” he added.