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Lang will face independent Gary Jarrell and Republican Al Bedrosian for Republican Richard Flora’s seat.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Roanoke County Democrats tapped one of their own Monday, in a last-minute caucus to find candidates to run for seats on the board of supervisors.
The party meeting took place on the eve of the filing deadline for potential candidates, and set the stage for whom voters will have to choose from when they head to the polls in November. At stake are three seats on the five-person board, and a docket of consequential issues the board will consider within the first quarter of the new year.
County Democrats nominated Brian Lang, their own party chairman, to run for the Hollins District seat currently held by outgoing Republican Richard Flora. The nomination transforms that contest into a three-person race, a prospect that has left some self-described moderate thinkers nervous about November.
Lang will face independent Gary Jarrell and Republican Al Bedrosian for the seat. Flora has already endorsed Jarrell.
The committee did not produce candidates for the Vinton or Windsor Hills districts.
A mechanical engineer who moved to Roanoke County in 1991 from Rochester, N.Y., Lang said his involvement in valley politics started in the mid-1990s. He said the centerpiece of his campaign will be improving employment opportunities in the county by recruiting more employers into the region.
Lang also said he’s also committed to improving the quality of life through support of greenways and schools.
On storm water management, a future expense that may cost the county millions of dollars , he said he hopes to seek a long-term solution that will involve a cooperative effort across the valley. He would not offer any specifics as to how to pay for the program, though he said he does not think an additional fee for taxpayers is necessary.
As news of Lang’s nomination rippled through political circles, reaction was mixed. Some said the Democrats waited too long to jump into the race, others voiced concern that Lang would enhance the odds of a right-leaning Bedrosian win by siphoning votes away from Jarrell.
Supervisor Charlotte Moore, a Jarrell supporter, said she hopes the Democrats made their nomination with foresight in mind.
“There’s a strong candidate running, and there’s another candidate running that really wants to go backwards,” she said. “It gives me pause because the future of Roanoke County is at stake here.”
Former Democrat Carter Turner, who described Bedrosian as an extremist, echoed Moore’s concern.
“When you’ve got two other candidates dividing the votes, I think it’s tougher,” Turner said, adding that Lang faces the added disadvantage of operating within a disorganized broken Democratic committee.
In light of his critics, Lang expressed faith in the democratic process, rebuffing talk of vote-splitting.
“I think it’s up to the voters to decide who they want to be their supervisor,” he said. “I think a candidate has to earn people’s votes. It’s a wonderful tradition.”
Flora offered a different perspective than Moore and Turner.
“I think it’s going to come down to Gary Jarrell and Brian Lang,” Flora said. “Al Bedrosian has a lot of baggage, and his philosophy is quite anti-Roanoke County. I think the voters will probably see through that.”
He added that Lang’s nomination will force Jarrell to change his strategy.
“The focus will have to be a little bit more intense and he’ll have to work a little bit harder,” Flora said. “I still believe that he’s the best of the three candidates, and I still believe he’s going to win.”
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