Former House of Delegates Candidate Now Aiming for Supervisor

Al Bedrosian jumps back in to the political arena.
Al Bedrosian jumps back in to the political arena.

The field vying to replace the retiring Richard Flora as the Hollins District supervisor in Roanoke County became a bit more crowded last week as former House of Delegates candidate Al Bedrosian threw his hat in the ring. Bedrosian is seeking the Republican Party nomination and will run against at least one other candidate, former GOP party chair in Roanoke County Mike Bailey, at a firehouse primary on May 11, at the Hollins Library.

Bedrosian, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates against then-majority leader Dick Cranwell in 1997 and 1999. He sounded more like a statewide candidate or perhaps the radio talk show host that he once was in making his announcement at the Sunnybrook Restaurant on Plantation Road last Saturday.

Among those on hand was Butch Church, the Catawba District supervisor who first ran as a Republican but most recently was reelected as an independent. Independent Gary Jarrell, currently a member of the Roanoke County Planning Commission, is already running for the Hollins seat. No Democrat-labeled candidate has announced a run.

Bedrosian took a swipe at Barack Obama’s comment that small business owners didn’t build their own professions (“yes they did”), and said he didn’t see a serious political discussion on the national level about how to solve the country’s problems. “This is not about me…making a name,” said Bedrosian about entering the political fray again, “[but] I really cannot, not do it. Why are we putting up with government running the way it is?”

Bedrosian, like Bailey, doesn’t sound like he would support organizations like ICLEI, which is funded by the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. That $1200 a year allocation has become a political football. “Environmental issues [are] getting crazy,” said Bedrosian.

There are four “key points,” said Bedrosian to his approach, beginning with financial issues. Roanoke County is currently $200 million in debt, paying about $17 million a year just in debt service, according to Bedrosian. “[Its] like you’ve maxed out your credit card…I think that’s wrong.”

Bedrosian does not support projects like the $30 million Green Ridge Recreation Center, despite its popularity, saying those types of facilities should be left to the private sector to build. He also called the new South County library “ridiculous,” in its size and scope, wondering if local governments should even be in the library business at all.

Personal freedom is high on Bedrosian’s list; he criticized the Board of Supervisors for backing down on the prayer offered before public meetings after pressure from a Wisconsin group that threatened to sue over separation of church and state issues.

Bedrosian said the county should have been prepared to spend the money necessary to fight any change. Board meetings now feature a non-denominational prayer.

“The supervisors…buckled,” said Bedrosian, who noted that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, even if it has become much more diverse. “Government doesn’t have the right to tell people how to pray,” said Bedrosian, a Virginia Tech graduate, married with five children, who works for Xerox.

Noting “pressure coming down” from environmental groups, Bedrosian vowed to help remove the county from any involvement with them. “The dictates and mandates are unbelievable,” said Bedrosian..

Bedrosian said he chose to run for the Hollins Magisterial District seat as a Republican, not as an independent, because “we need to adhere to [GOP values].” That includes free enterprise and free markets (“if you let government lead there will be a disaster”), fiscal restraint that includes “no handouts,” and safe streets and good public safety. “Faith in God as recognized by our Founding Fathers,” should be a cornerstone, he said.

“I may not actually be very popular – but that’s okay,” said Bedrosian, who hopes his conservative, fiscally prudent approach will win over Republican voters on May 11 and then the general public in November.

 By Gene Marrano

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