Bowers Wins Firehouse Primary

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Roanoke Democrats endure heavy rain during last Saturday’s Firehouse Primary.
Roanoke Democrats endure heavy rain during last Saturday’s Firehouse Primary.

by Valerie Garner

Incumbent Mayor David Bowers handily defeated his Democrat challenger Sam Rasoul by a vote of 867 to 526. The total votes in the primary were 1396 according to Roanoke City Party Chair Joann Edmunds.

Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell closed the doors promptly at 3:00 p.m. Each candidate had an observer during the count. Bowers had councilman Ray Ferris and Rasoul had his sister Sue Rasoul.

According to one voter, Susan Hall,  two women argued and did not want to sign the oath. They said they were “not Democrats” they were “Americans” and they voted for the person. They eventually conceded and signed the oath marking through the part that said, “I am a Democrat.”

Two other women who called themselves Republicans were turned away when they refused to sign the loyalty vote. One made it through to the registration table, said Gary Crawford, 6th district chair. He said that all in all things went smooth, but that there were some “nasty remarks” made to both candidates by a few voters.

In the 2008 firehouse primary where Councilman Court Rosen was the top vote-getter, 1700 participated at Patrick Henry High School per Rosen. In comparison the almost 1400 voters that showed up at William Fleming between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. were substantial in that it was only a mayoral primary. All three incumbent Democratic council members were unchallenged – Anita Price, Sherman Lea and Court Rosen.

After the count Joan Washburn campaign manager for Bowers told Sam Rasoul “you ran a really good race.” Bowers was gracious in his acceptance shaking Rasoul’s hand and praising him. He asked for unity and support from Rasoul and his team as they head into the general election on May 1.

“He’s one tough competitor,” said Bowers in consoling his opponent.

Bowers told the Star-Sentinel that he took his challenger seriously. He was tired, he said, having spent time at his office since 6:30 a.m. before arriving at William Fleming by 7:30 a.m. Both candidates stood in the cold and rain greeting voters until the doors closed at 3:00 p.m.

Bowers spent Sunday morning at early mass at St. Andrews Catholic Church with his mother, Mary Bowers. He then kicked back by his home fireplace and watched the super bowl. He was back at work Monday for a 9:00 a.m. council briefing and 2:00 council meeting.

Though disappointed, Rasoul looked forward to a birthday party for his two young girls born a few days apart in February. He said he would continue to live in the city and has not ruled out another run for a political office in the future. “I have a passion for public policy,” he said.

Rasoul hoped that more young people will get involved in politics. Young voters did not show up in the numbers that he needed to win on Saturday. As voters entered, it became apparent that the consistently reliable older voters outnumbered all other demographics.

Bowers is now back in the good graces of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee that he was at odds with four years ago.