But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, (….) Exodus 18:21-22
Across the US, attention and pressure are building as we approach our November 3 elections. This is such a huge event, even my online students in Asia are aware of it. While most of the focus is on President Trump and VP Joe Biden, we need to keep a local focus as well: Roanoke City will be choosing the majority of its next city council: 3 council members and mayor, that is 4 seats out of 7.
A friend of mine, Maynard Keller, has thrown his hat into the ring for his first run for elected office. He and I had a recent chat. When asked why he was running, Keller said he was doing so for a number of reasons. Since 1994, he has served on various Roanoke City committees and task forces, but things came to a head last October as he observed council making what he thought were many poor decisions.
One example was the choice to move the bus station to a bad location. Keller also observed a pattern of unresponsiveness by the current members. “They were hearing with their ears, but they weren’t listening.”
He knew running for office would be a major commitment, so he made the decision early, in October 2019. Knowing it would involve a sacrifice for his whole family, he asked his wife for her opinion, and she responded: “I’d be disappointed if I didn’t see you run.”
Win or lose, he says his priorities are “Faith, Friends, and Family,” and he wants to keep those values intact.
In recent years, City voters have not had many actual choices. For example, in the last elections two years ago, all the candidates were Democrats or independents, with no Republicans running at all. I asked Keller whether having an ‘R’ behind his name as a candidate in Roanoke City is a “Kiss of Death.”
“I know there are a lot of people in the City with traditional values. Peg McGuire is running as a Republican too, so now voters can have two conservatives. Roanoke citizens have not had an opportunity like this in almost twenty years, when the last Republicans were elected, Ralph Smith [and Bill Carder].” With three Democrats and several independents running this year, Keller thinks they may well “split the vote” and give conservatives a path to victory.
When asked about his views on the Second Amendment, Keller responded, “The Constitution is not a Democrat or Republican issue. The Constitution is for everybody. However, the Democrat Party as a whole has stopped being a party of the Middle Class, but has become the party of rioting, looting, and sanctioning Israel. The extreme voices are now the mainstream.”
Keller explained that the Second Amendment enforces all the other amendments. “We don’t have anything, if we can’t defend ourselves.” He pointed out that “new gun sales are through the roof, and one or two of 10 new gun owners is a Democrat. They’re scared too. With all the #defundpolice talk, who are you going to call? Ghostbusters?”
Noting the current chaos gripping many areas across the US, Keller added, “It’s crazy out there,” adding that “the most popular kinds of ammunition are flying off the shelves; it’s all sold out and on back order.”
He also cited the notorious City Council meeting last December: “Several hundred of us were there, gathered in support of the Second Amendment, asking the council to adopt a 2A sanctuary status, like most of the surrounding localities had done.” However, those pleas fell on deaf ears. “What was really a punch in the stomach was that there was no discussion. No one had the courage to stand up and defend the Second Amendment.”
Keller points out that he and McGuire, if elected, will be staunch supporters of Second Amendment rights.
Another issue in front of voters is council’s controversial decision to move their elections from May to November. Keller said that Roanoke City elections have been in May for as long as he can remember. By having them in May, voters can focus on local issues and not get them mixed and confused with national issues. However, a few months ago when council heard that “serious opposition” was forming this year, they “got scared” and moved the elections to November, to the same day as national elections.
Keller said he suspects that was a partisan move to try to help the Democrats’ chances on election day, thanks to a larger turnout. Had elections been in May 2020 as usual, a new council would have been seated on July 1. However, by taking the extraordinary step of moving the election date–despite vocal opposition– council conveniently added six months to their terms and six months of extra City-funded salary to their pocketbooks. Noting that their terms should have ended on July 1, Keller now claims: “They’re an expired City Council” and “There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with City Council.”
On the personal front Keller has lived and raised a family in Roanoke City since 1994. After a short stint teaching at Roanoke Valley Christian School, he has since been a certified financial planner and thinks adding someone with business acumen to city leadership would help the community.
– Scott Dreyer