David Bowers completed a dramatic political comeback tonight. After losing 5 or so elections in a row, Bowers was able to knock off incumbent Mayor Nelson Harris by a wide margin.
As a young professional in Roanoke City, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am. Harris may not have been a great Mayor, but Bowers represents the politics of the past--the last thing Roanoke needs right now. At a crucial time when Roanoke needs to look forward, I feel that Bowers will resist progress and change--something Roanoke has done quite well for a long time. I think Bowers represents a step back. And that's a shame. Bowers will have four years to prove me wrong. I hope he does.
On the bright side, incumbent Councilman and chief obstructionist Brian Wishneff lost his seat. That is most certainly a small step forward. Wishneff has the occasional good point, but his attitude and tactics have made him completely ineffective, something we don't need more of on Council. City Hall will certainly be a more civil place without him.
While Roanoke has a history of electing one issue candidates (think Victory Stadium), they rejected the candidacy of Valerie Garner, whose sole purpose for running was to save the Country Side Golf Course. We need more depth than that. Roanoke made right choice.
Anita Price ran on her record as an educator and won a seat. Roanoke's failing school system is the single biggest problem facing the City. I hope Price can lead on this issue and bring about much needed change.
Sherman Lea was the sole incumbent to survive. I won't pretend to understand those politics. Lea doesn't exactly inspire me, but I guess he also avoids the controversy that plagues many of the candidates. Interestingly, earlier this year, Lea disassociated himself from Wishneff and realigned with Harris, both of whom lost tonight. Go figure.
Finally, I am glad to see a fellow Young Professional like Court Rosen win a seat. Rosen can now give voice to our growing demographic. There is a lot of expectation there, but I think Rosen is up for the job.
As for the the new makeup of Council, Rosen will most certainly align himself with Trinkle and Mason. Bowers will be on the other side. Lea and Price may be the tiebreakers. I just read tonight that Alvin Nash may have to resign his seat--that could play out in a way to give Trinkle, Mason and Rosen a working majority.