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Rasoul Sought Advice in Decision to Run for Mayor

Sam Rasoul

by Valerie Garner

“No one sought me out to run,” said Sam Rasoul. Those he spoke to “outline the pros and cons” of his decision to run for Mayor, he said. Some were worried about it upsetting the Democratic council’s status quo. “I really had to think long and hard about that … This is not an anti-David Bowers campaign.”

Mayor David Bowers’ reaction to Rasoul’s announcement last week was one of acceptance. He said, “I get challenges every day and this is just another interesting challenge I’ve got to deal with.” It is up to the public on who they want as Mayor and “I’ve always found Roanokers to take that very genuinely.”

Some have questioned Rasoul’s recent move from Botetourt County to Roanoke City. Rasoul confirmed his move from a Botetourt County rental to a Glade Creek apartment in the city’s Wildwood community. He lives there with his wife Layaly and two young daughters, Jennah and Amirah.

He has lived in the Roanoke Valley since age three when he attended Greenvale School, a non-profit childcare center in Northwest Roanoke. After graduating from Roanoke College with a Business Administration degree in 2002, he completed his Masters degree at Hawaii Pacific University with a focus on International Business.

Rasoul, now 30, said that while many of his friends left Roanoke after completing school, he chose to stay and contribute to an area that has blessed him with so much. In 2008 at age 27, he ran as a Democrat against Bob Goodlatte (R-6) and though he lost, he garnered 53% of the vote in Roanoke City.

Since then, Rasoul has sold his video store and other smaller business ventures but he still owns the Lamplighter Mall. His wife had helped run those businesses but now their two young daughters keep her busy, he said.

In 2009, he became the Chief Financial Officer at Kissito Healthcare headquartered at Valleypointe. They provide post-acute care for the elderly funded by private and government grants. They also partner with the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia and Uganda.

“During these economic times Roanoke cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.

With his financial skills he said he would make sure that “every dollar is spent as wisely as possible.” He believes Roanoke taxpayers expect it.

With budget constraints coming from Richmond and Washington D.C. “we’re going to need some strong leadership to make sure we watch every single dollar.”

Bringing jobs to Roanoke means going to Richmond and the Virginia Department of Economic Development Partnership and advocating for why jobs should come to the Valley. “The Governor only cares about bringing jobs to Virginia to make themselves look good … But who’s making the case for Roanoke?” asked Rasoul.

“The Mayor through that leadership really sets that tone … there is a lot more the city could be doing to make Roanoke a formidable regional player to attract more jobs.”

Rasoul said that Roanoke City’s legislators if asked, “probably expect more of [Roanoke’s] legislative agenda.”

At a breakfast with Delegate Onzlee Ware, Rasoul sought Ware’s advice on running. He also later met with Mignon Chubb-Hale, a big long-term care and geriatric advocate he said. Some influential Democrats believe in “not ruffling any feathers” but Rasoul said Ware was encouraging.

Rasoul says that education should be another focal point for attracting business. “Our students are competing globally and our country has fallen way behind. Education is the only equalizer – so it is important that we maximize every tax dollar spent on education, to build the capacity [and] to ensure that every single child comes to school ready to learn, and receives a high quality education.”

He plans to spend his time listening to Roanokers and learning more about their thoughts on improving the city.

Councilman Sherman Lea said in a phone call that he thinks the Mayor needs to be vigilant – “[Rasoul] has shown through the last election that he beat Bob Goodlatte in the city. I’m surprised by it but I hope that nobody would underestimate him. That’s the thing about politics – you can’t underestimate your opponent.”

Lea again reiterated that he is not running for Mayor and will seek another term for city council. The firehouse primary will be in February at William Fleming High School.

Rasoul plans to formally announce his candidacy after the first of the year.

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  1. This guy seems to want to break into politics in a bad way…I saw some of his stuff when he went after Goodlatte. Nothing special. Looks like an ultra left winger and he appears to know the market of Roanoke City politics….eg ultra left radical borderline socialist. No thanks Sammy!

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