Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roanoke City Elects Bowers - Takes a Step Back

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.


RoanokeFound said...

funny, but I don't recall the repubs being able to find anyone to run - and after reading this I can see why.

your ability to miss the point is astounding.

Tim said...

As a no longer young pofessional who has lived in this city for a long time, I agree whole heartedly with your opinions regarding yesterday's election results.

Neither stepping backward nor returning to the stagnate polictical environment of the past is in our city's best interest and I am hopeful the momentum generated over the past two years will continue.

On the bright side, I wished not for Wishneff and gratefully many others did as well.

Zak Moore said...

roanokefound - I looked but I can't find your point. Care to elaborate?

Bill White said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zak Moore said...

Bill White - Your comment above has been deleted. Racial and religious bigotry has no place on this blog. Take your trash somewhere else.

Salem Republicans said...


I agree that Bowers' election raises some questions. I'm looking forward to finding out the answers.

Over on our blog roanokevalleyrepublicans.blogspot.com I've raised the question of whether Roanoke City needs "magisterial districts" for its council members. Not being a Roanoke City historian, I was wondering if anyone knew the history of Roanoke's City Council and whether it had ever been done (we all know some cities have ugly racial histories that play out this way). Just curious since Roanoke County does it and it seems like it might be appropriate in Roanoke City.

Zak Moore said...

Salem - I've heard both sides of the ward system argument. Some think wards will create more divisiveness. Others think wards give citizens better representation. They would certainly give Republicans a shot at a seat or two on Council. I don't know the past history, but it's definitely an issue that should be discussed going forward.

mountain star said...

Can you please tell me how Mr. Moore missed the point?

The unfortunate point made ( after last nights election), is that Roanoke City has been headed down hill for the past 50 years, just check out their ailing school system, compare their drop out rate to surrounding areas, check out SOL scores in the city....

Where have all the young people gone?

To greener pastures, not staying in Roanoke that's a fact. This city is dead, and after last nights election, Roanoke will stay put in the grave they have dug themselves.

Now That is the real point...

mountain star said...

What we desperately need is for more young professional people (of either party affiliation), to run for local office in Roanoke City....

Mr. Rosen, hopefully will be the beginnings of a "new trend", in the Star City.... "retire the old school",a track record of repeated failures, and elect the new school, a promise of positive change and progress.

RoanokeFound said...

You really cannot figure out where I am coming from on this? Honestly?

I guess you have not been following my journey through this city.

Since when does being a "young professional" make ones opinion matter. I thought being a "productive member of society" took care of that.

If you think Bowers is any worse than Harris, I am obviously not reaching a wide enough audience. Bowers is far LESS likely to run a closed-door government, far less likely to engage in the "Good Ol Boy" network like Harris did (oh, I guess you didn't hear about that).

Wishneff has a gift, he also has a curse. Wishneff could have been the greatest motivating factor for change in this city, but faced with a council full of "yes men" - hell, I'd call them scum to their faces.

And I'm sorry, but where this idea of "working together" comes from - who says you need to work together with everyone? Politics is never civil, nor is the good work of running a city peaceful and happy. Passions must come into play, or you wind up with a bland shadow of what could be.

And on that note - the city has not been on a downhill slide for 50 years. Nope, they let Southeast Roanoke take that hit. The city has been mismanaged for nearly that long however, with the change to the Weak Mayor - City Manager form of governance. Well, that and electing people who have nothing better to do than run for council. Heaven's forbid someone with an actual job should get involved.

Valerie was anything BUT a 1 issue candidate, but what have you. that's a moot point, and past now.

I am not glad to see a young fellow like Rosen win, for one simple reason. He is exactly like the rest of them. Someone who is beholden to only themselves, and no one else.

Just like Harris, Trinkle, and the rest. If any one of them had a boss like most of the rest of us, they would be very different people.

50 years of wrong-thinking has led the city here - to this point, and this moment in it's history, and these are the people we think will be able to do anything about it?

Rosen is not the one you seek, if you see a fresh perspective - and we shall see that soon enough. He is used to high-level politics, and big money lobbying. That experience is of no use to him here.

But I digress, the real issue at stake is the very thing voiced by Mountain Star.

"This city is dead, and after last nights election, Roanoke will stay put in the grave they have dug themselves. "

Well, when you believe that - it sure is.

By the by, on a historical note - yes, the city did once have a Wards system - full representation on a section by section basis.That's the system that got the city started, and through it's boom years - then someone decided to change it, and here we have been since.

Change the people, or change the system?

And as a life-long registered ReThuglican, I think I can honestly say - the mentality that I have seen from both sides of the aisle around here is exactly what keeps us from progressing.

I'm open for discussion however, but remember - your dealing with a former NY'er. My expectations are very different than most peoples.

(go ahead - now you can say I have no clue what I'm talking about because I'm not even from here)

mountain star said...

On the contrary,Roanoke found....you do seem to have some insight and knowledge of the Roanoke area, and its political past. All opinions are welcomed, even if you are miss placed Yankee! That explains a lot in itself....we Southerners and area natives, probably do have a very different take on the "State of Roanoke City". Please let me elaborate on my personal journey thru Roanoke's past to its current and future state of affairs.

I have personally witnessed this City evolve from a basic Railroad owned town ( the mammoth Norfolk and Western Railroad), and its unrelenting control to the newly renamed city better known as, "Carillon Roanoke".

You speak of the past and current politicians all coming from a similar one sided narrow view point..... but who really dictates to them.....

My experience tells me, the actual ones who pull "ALL the strings", in Roanoke City are attached to the hip, currently to Carillon, and in the past, attached like glue, to the railroad big shots. Roanoke's prognosis, is controlled by the "whose who" at Carillon, not your city council members.

Nothing has changed in Roanoke's core structure, except for the politicians names, their agendas and end results are the same, do nothing, and you get nothing....

That's why Rosen may have a slim chance to make some positive changes, because of his youth and mavrick approach, he might be a glimer of light in this dark grave that Roanokers find themselves in.

As always, only time will tell the real story.....I am just glad I don't have to pay Roanoke City taxes....

Young professionals, getting involved in the world around them, my hats off to them, there is nothing worse then apathy

RoanokeFound said...

Ah, but see thats where your wrong about Rosen. He IS the medical industry, jut a different side of it. And he knows what a payoff and lobbying are really supposed to look like.

I hardly believe that the City Council is controlled by Carilion, just as I am sure it was controlled by N&W. Barely, and without guidance.

If that were the case, this town would have been a showcase for N&W, and they would not have left for Norfolk.

Personally, I think the biggest mistake is thinking of this as a "Southern Town," - It's not. Get over it.

Roanoke is just a misplaced Midwestern city.

Southern cities were built on agriculture, Roanoke was industry.

Stop thinking about it that way, and perhaps it becomes much easier to set straight.

Oh - "Maverick approach"? Yeah, that's going to give me a good chuckle all day. Rosen could not have been more conventional or passionless during his campaign. But I guess thats what we look for in councilmembers.

mountain star said...

First of all the Roanoke area is very southern, which I happen to think is a good thing, so why would I want to "get over it"

If there is a small light of hope for Roanoke, it very well may be its small southern town atmosphere and the beauty of the entire area.

Historically speaking, Roanoke "began", because of its location in Virginia, it was the Valley between two impressive ridges.

Roanoke developed from forest to farmland ( i.e. agriculture) prior to 1850s.
Our roots are very much southern, we were a blend of hard core blue collar workers and financial entrepreneurs that worked the land, from mining salt,iron and coal.

The railroad formed a junction here, and people started to flood this area to settle in a culture based on southern traditions, like hard work, living a moral example, and going to Church.

Reach outside of Roanoke City, and you might find lots of southern charm, and good solid citizens and neighbors. By the way, they have accomplished some good things by working together for a common cause. Roanoke City seemed to start out with some southern influence,but gradually it seemd to turn to greed and self indulgence.

Like I said before, I am real glad the City does not get my tax money.

I have a suggestion, why don't you run ( Roanoke found) for elected office, no matter if you are or are not a young professional, maybe you can make the kind of changes that you feel so strongly that Roanoke needs. New blood may very well make positive things happen..all talk usually gets us no where quick....Again, I like the idea of these young people getting involved... voicing their opinions, and maybe even take a shot at a run for local office one day.