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Roanoke County GOP Introduces 2023 Candidate Slate

Republican candidates for Roanoke County offices will publicly launch their campaigns on Saturday, January 28 at noon on the steps of the Roanoke County Courthouse in Salem. These campaigns are for elections that will be held in November.

The following Republicans will be there to announce:

Brian Holohan – Commonwealth Attorney
Kevin Hutchins – Treasurer
Paul Mahoney – Board of Supervisors, Cave Spring District
Martha Hooker – Board of Supervisors, Catawba District and current Board Chairman

GOP Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA9) and Congressman Ben Cline (VA6), Delegate Joe
McNamara, Delegate Chris Head, Senator David Suetterlein, and the other
Roanoke County Board of Supervisors have been invited to attend along with
family and friends. The event is open to the public.

Del. McNamara, the only CPA in the House of Delegates, will be seeking re-election. Sen. Suetterlein is running for re-election against Sen. John Edwards (D) as redistricting has placed them both in the same district covering most of the Roanoke Valley. Del. Head has announced he will leave the House of Delegates in order to run for a new Senate seat that runs from East Roanoke County up to around Staunton and Waynesboro.

Roanoke County is a microcosm of much of the American South. For generations known as “the Solid South” because it always voted Democrat, both the region and County have moved steadily into the GOP column in recent years. As one local political observer commented, until not long ago, only one member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors was a Republican. Now, all five members are. Sheriff Eric Orange, Treasurer Kevin Hutchins, and Commonwealth Attorney Brian Holohan are also GOP officeholders. Currently, only two of the County’s elected officials are Democrats: Clerk of the Circuit Court Steve McGraw and Commissioner of Revenue Nancy Horn.

McGraw told The Roanoke Star that he will take early retirement effective February 1, and that current Chief Deputy Clerk Rhonda Perdue will serve in his place to finish the remaining 11 months of his term. Perdue will then face Michael Galliher in the June GOP primary, with the winner going on the ballot in November. Thus, as of February 1, Horn will be the sole officeholder in Roanoke County with a (D) behind her name.

All elections are important, but for Roanoke County’s clerk of court, the terms are for eight years.

Roanoke City and Roanoke County have long had their distinctives, but in recent years, the contrasts have become starker and impossible to overlook. Roanoke County voters have put into office a team that focuses on a no-nonsense, no-drama, competent approach to leadership. When much of the nation bought into the “defund the police” mantra in 2020, Roanoke County bucked the trend and was encouraging more officers to enlist with the County. Motorists will notice that beggars and homeless encampments are seldom seen in Roanoke County or Vinton, and headlines about political scandals are rare.

In contrast, City Council has an overwhelmingly Democrat majority, and the city has a growing problem with crime, homeless encampments, and political scandals. As outlined here, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. was on the state parole board for six years; that group received a scathing report from the Office of the Inspector General in 2020. In a report on the parole board scandal released January 26, 2023 from Attorney General Jason Miyares: “What happened here was a clear abuse of power. [It] was the epitome of putting criminals first and victims last.” On a per capita basis, Roanoke City is the #2 Crime Capital of Virginia. Panhandlers at busy corners and gas stations are common and reportedly getting more aggressive.

Although most people and news organizations focus more attention on national politics, the greatest impact on our daily lives is usually at the level of local politics. This is because our local leaders are largely responsible for property taxes, police protection, fire and rescue squads, schools, trash collection, parks and recreation, conducting elections, street lights, libraries, prosecuting criminals, etc.

Correction and Updated Jan. 27, 2023: This story originally reported: “for Roanoke County’s five constitutional officers such as sheriff, clerk of court, and commonwealth attorney, the terms are for eight years.” That is incorrect. Only the position of clerk of court has an eight-year term. The others have four-year terms. The Roanoke Star regrets the error. Moreover, McGraw has announced he will retire effective February 1, 2023.

Updated February 17, 2023: Michael Galliher is also running for Clerk of Court.

–Scott Dreyer

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