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Jarrell has spent nearly a dozen years on the Roanoke County Planning Commission, a position afforded to him by outgoing Supervisor Richard Flora.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Sitting beneath the hum of a fluorescent light at Aesy’s Restaurant in Roanoke, Gary Jarrell laid out some basic ideas for Roanoke County’s future.
A center-left independent in the race for the Hollins District supervisor seat, Jarrell has set business at the centerpiece of his campaign. One of three men vying for the same seat in that district, Jarrell is seeking to differentiate himself in ways that transcend party affiliation.
Jarrell has spent nearly a dozen years on the Roanoke County Planning Commission, a position afforded to him by outgoing Supervisor Richard Flora, who has subsequently endorsed Jarrell as his own successor. His opponents, Democrat Brian Lang and Republican Al Bedrosian, have operated exclusively within the private sector.
“When I was appointed to the planning commission by the board of supervisors … I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for this or not,” Jarrell said. “But as I went into it, I mean, I love it. I like being involved. I like to have some sort of say-so or input in what’s going on in my neighborhood and the county.”
In the past year, Jarrell has worked with his fellow commissioners and county staff to simplify and strike inefficiencies from the county’s land-use ordinance, an exercise that officials hope will make starting new businesses easier. If approved in August by the board of supervisors, the amendments could be seen as a driving accomplishment for Jarrell’s campaign.
“It does increase efficiency, and I was glad to be part of this,” he said during an interview last week.
His work has garnered him an endorsement from the Business Leadership Fund, a political action committee administered by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. Mike Pace, the chairman of that PAC, said the organization decided to endorse Jarrell because of his record and personality.
“We were really impressed with his expertise on the planning commission,” Pace said. “He has had a long run there. He is thoughtful and dedicated. He’s committed, he’s practical, and he’s also a businessman.”
Jarrell is the owner of Valley Boiler.
He said he hopes to focus his campaign on local issues, including looming matters such as storm water management, and projects that will drive activity with the community. He listed himself as a supporter of the decisions to build the South County Library, the Vinton Library and the Green Ridge Recreational Center. He has not provided any specific ideas of how the county could pay for storm water management, which is expected to total in the millions.
For Hollins, in particular, Jarrell said he hopes to work with staff to find ways to renew Hollins’ presence in the community.
“I’d like to see some changes,” he said. “One thing I would like to revisit is possibly the opportunity of getting transportation up there.”
He said finding a way to get more Valley Metro buses into Hollins would be a good way to draw activity from Hollins University out into the community.
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