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A firehouse primary will decide who will serve as the next Windsor Hills District representative on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

The GOP contest, coming up June 11, features a two-way race between contenders RoxAnne Christley and David Radford.

This is a special election to decide who takes over the seat left open last year after Joe McNamara won election to the House of Delegates.

Radford, 61, holds the seat now having been tapped by the four remaining county supervisors to serve as an interim appointee.

Christley, 55, is making a return to the electoral ring after mounting a primary challenge against McNamara in 2013 and losing by just five votes.

The victor in the special election will serve out the remainder of the seat’s term through the end of 2021.

The firehouse primary will settle which of the two hopefuls gets the Republican Party nomination. And, with no Democrat in the running and no independents filed to date, it will likely be the decisive word on who ends up in office.

“This is really the whole ball of wax,” Christley said on a windy Saturday as she reached out to voters up on Bent Mountain.

“And it’s your choice,” she added of the outcome.

Windsor Hills — which encompasses about 14,300 voters in the southwest end of Roanoke County — is the only district in the county with a primary vote this year. While other offices will be on the general election ballot come November, none generated competition for party backing.

With the Windsor Hills primary looming, both candidates have been out pounding the pavement to connect with voters and let them know about the chance to cast their ballot.

Late nights, handwritten notes and countless doors knocked in the rain and the heat have been poured by both into raising awareness about what can tend to be a low-turnout vote clinched by just a few ballots.

On a wet weekend spent canvassing, David Radford cheerfully declined when a voter invited him to come inside and get out of the rain.

“That’s OK,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of doors to knock on.”

Economic development has been one of the chief focuses of the race with both contenders underscoring the importance of courting new employers and strengthening the local workforce.

Both are favorable toward the Reimagine 419 plan and its vision of re-energizing the Tanglewood Mall corridor.

Christley said she would push hard to take that plan from the drawing board to reality.

“Everything’s in the planning stage right now,” she said. “It’s time to start doing.”

The county needs to step up its game if it hopes to grow its business community and cultivate new opportunities that will help keep the next generation here, she added. That includes marketing itself more vigorously and making strategic investments in the amenities and infrastructure that make for an attractive, competitive community.

“Roanoke County deserves to grow and increase in variety and employment and opportunity,” Christley, said. “But it’s not going to happen if we don’t actually get out there and sell Roanoke.”

Radford said a multipronged approach was particularly crucial as the county works to court more young professionals. That demographic wants more outdoor amenities, welcoming town centers and updated housing options.

“We’ve got to be talking about all those things,” he said, adding it also directly ties in with efforts to recruit emerging new industries to the county.

“That’s what I want to help with,” he said. “Those opportunities that are out there to help our community continue to grow and create jobs.”

In conversations with voters, Radford highlights his background in community planning and budget management, including five years spent on the planning commission and a career running a real estate development firm.

Christley, a longtime grassroots political activist, leads with a vow to be a tireless advocate. On Bent Mountain, she said, she’d work to boost first responder coverage and cut down on emergency response times in the rural end of the county.

She’d also prioritize community engagement, she said, working to build partnerships and get direct input from citizens.

“That’s how a community thrives and grows,” said Christley, who’s made her home in Roanoke County for the past three decades.

“You give the community a voice and actually listen.”

Both Christley and Radford voiced support for the schools and for hands-on learning initiatives like the apprenticeship program launched in 2017. Responsible fiscal stewardship was another shared priority.

Radford said he was happy the county was able to keep its tax rate flat in the new budget just approved. Property values also rose this year, he said, but that is an encouraging sign that the economy is continuing to rebound.

A Roanoke County native, Radford said he’s seen where the county has been and where it stands now. He said he hopes to continue serving to help the community achieve its goals of building a strong future.

“We need to keep the county moving forward,” he said. “Our best days are still ahead of us.”

Windsor Hills is reliably Republican but has a history of close votes in local primaries. Nomination contests for county supervisor in 2009 and 2013 were settled by fewer than 20 ballots. Although, the most recent primary held in 2017 was sealed by a wide margin of more than 400 votes.

District residents should be aware that all voting in the firehouse primary will be done at one polling place rather than the usual six polling places assigned to various parts of the district.

The voting locale picked by the local party is the Brambleton Center, 3738 Brambleton Ave., where the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. June 11.

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Alicia Petska covers what's happening in Roanoke County and the City of Salem.

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