Monday, February 15, 2016

Whispering About David Trinkle's Loss

Vice Mayor Trinkle (center) and Lea (left) at press conference recently.
I have heard more than I expected to hear over the past two days about Roanoke Vice Mayor David Trinkle's narrow loss in Saturday's Democratic primary to Councilman Sherman Lea, a man who truly should not have won.

Trinkle's loss surprised many of us, but my most significant surprise was not his loss (African-American Lea is a church-going leader in a heavily black section of town and he mobilized the church buses for the voting), but that a large number of people really don't like David. At all. They question his competence and his honesty. They say things about him that I won't repeat here.

One woman accused him of indirectly causing the death of her mother. He is a psychiatrist and medication had something to do with the death. I have heard other complaints about him as a physician. As a businessman, I've heard questions about his honesty and his treatment of employees. One person wrote to me, "I've heard it across the spectrum, both about him as a business owner and as a doctor."

"I honestly think a good portion of why David didn't win is because he has a horrible reputation outside of 'rich, white, South Roanoke,'" wrote a South Roanoker. "I have heard horror stories about him for years from all kinds of people. I think his reputation caught up with him this time."

Frankly, I have heard--and generally ignored--whispers about David, a man who has always been cordial to me, though we had significant political differences. I have, upon occasion, blistered his council decisions. I like his wife Anne, a lot. She is a major player in Roanoke art.

This election exposed David's weakness for the first time. In the past, he has been the best accumulator of votes on council (which is why he is vice mayor). But this weekend, he ran into bitter cold, which suppressed segments of the large turnout; a well organized opponent with buses and vans at his disposal (easy in/easy out for the voters); and the questions that have haunted him for some time. I suspect his support was soft at best, and with Lea's appeal to an enthusiastic black base, his 164-vote loss was probably closer than it could have been. 

Although I suspect Leah to be a memorably bad mayor, I'm wondering if David has a political future at all in Roanoke. I think a lot of people are.

One internet message to me said, "I'm sure David could have been more competent [as mayor than Lea] but I couldn't vote for him knowing his level of disregard for the 'little people.' And it bit him in the ass."

'Course all this speculation and rumor could go straight to the toilet if David runs as an Independent and wins--which he well could (there won't be much snow or cold in May). And that's the rumor, since rumor is the coin of the realm of this post.



  1. I'm guessing Trinkle signed the same party loyalty pledge when he voted for himself. So....even if he runs as an independent, he has to vote for Lea. Right? ;-)

  2. "Has to" by whose measure, Joe? There is no law involved and there is no penalty--save a personal one if that applies--to those breaking the pledge. That pledge is as empty as a politician's promise if you choose for it to be. I have voted in primaries before and blew off the pledge, although I signed it. It is silliness of politics and easily ignored (by me) and certainly by others.

    1. I agree. Sorry my wink didn't clearly indicate my sarcasm.

    2. For what it is worth:

      I am not sure he can run as an independent. Virginia as you can see above has a bit of a sore loser law in 24.2-520

  3. Didn't see the wink. I need to be more observant.

  4. I have worked for Dave for over 10 years. If he disregards the little people, I haven't seen it. When I started working at Fork In the Alley, I was only a few years removed from leaving a crumbling gold mining gig in Fairbanks, AK, being young and not doing my own taxes, I was slapped in the face with an almost $2000 tax lien. My taxes were filed as an Alaska resident even though I had attended Va Tech and paid in state tuition. After discussing with my then manager, Dave Trinkle agreed to pay the lien in full, and let me pay him back interest free, $50 a month. He never solicited a thank you from me, or discussed with any other employees, I know plenty of "little people" that would really appreciate being "disrespected" in such a manner.

  5. Sorry to post anonymously, but wanted to add another thought. When I wrote a cordial email to question a council decision he spearheaded 7 or 8 years ago, he responded with a condescending note that still gets me. He was incapable of admitting wrong (even though he was proven that way years later). He used capital letters and exclamation points like a child, and made paranoid accusations about my motives. He also questioned whether at my age (I was 27) I could possibly be a real stakeholder in Roanoke, and insulted my grasp of local government goings-on. He may very well have improved since then, but I found that interaction soured me for good on him as a well-meaning representative of the electorate.