Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bad/Good Choices for Roanoke Government

Michelle Dykstra is a far better council choice than the Dems nominated.
I am flabbergasted, but not surprised, that Sherman Lea has won the Democratic primary to be Roanoke's mayor. That almost certainly means he will be mayor because no Republican has come forward to run against him. (Of course an Independent could emerge to challenge.*)

Lea, who has been a marginally competent councilman for years, will do nothing at all for the city's image. David Bowers has been Roanoke's mayor for far too long and he was never a good mayor. But after watching Ralph Smith bumble through four years in the job, I was delighted to see David back in the seat again. At least he was good at speechifying, kissing babies and welcoming new businesses.

Lea, who is self-conscious and perfectly awful as a speaker will not present a good image. It is good that he is black, but once you get past that progressive positive, there is no there there.

What he showed with this win was that he could rally Roanoke's black voters to his cause. He did that exceptionally, sending church buses and vans out to collect his voters. Trinkle was strong in wealthy South Roanoke and other whiter parts of Roanoke, but his following was obviously not as committed as Lea's.

Vote for John Garland
The Democratic ticket, which will have three women and three African-Americans, is certainly diverse and that is a good thing. It does not, however, impress overall. Anita Price, who is already a council member, is adequate in the post. Frida Cathcart has run for office three times recently without winning, but I will note that Trish Boyd-White is a promising newcomer.

So what is the alternative? Michelle Dykstra and John Garland will run as independents and they are--by a measured mile--better than anybody the Democrats have posted. The Republicans have not nominated anybody, but in heavily Democratic Roanoke, that is the equivalent of nominating a Democrat in Roanoke County: it won't fly.

Ms. Dykstra and Garland, a longtime friend of mine, would become two of the best council representatives we have had in many years and both are running sans party because party affiliation should not be an issue in local elections.

We have a choice of good council reps here (Dykstra, Garland, White), but the Mayoral race--where David Trinkle, a psychiatrist and competent councilman was defeated--leaves me cold, as the weather did many voters yesterday. Reports say that a lot of them showed up, saw long lines and went home, leaving the decision to the more dedicated. Too bad.

(*Rumors are that Trinkle is considering an independent run.)

(Dykstra photo: Ronnie Lee Bailey.)

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