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Danville City Council Race (2012) – Update #1

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So now we know who’s running for Danville City Council. Let’s take a look at the field and see what’s out there.

Five spots are open and all five incumbents have filed for reelection (told you that you would, David Luther), and two challengers make it a seven person field. Because one of the challengers is riding a wave of support that’s going to get him elected, at least one of the incumbents is going to be out.  Let’s go to a breakdown of the race as of now…


Lee Vogler: I’m starting with Vogler because he’s got a lot of money and support for somebody that’s still in his Political Pampers. Vogler is saying the right things to energize young voters and old voters haven’t told him to get the hell off their lawn yet. He’s strong now and will probably be the top votegetter.

How Lee Vogler can win the election: Keep the money coming in and make sure he remains likeable to most people.

How Lee Vogler can lose the election: Vogler’s ego is already red-lining so there’s always a danger of really believing your own hype. Also, a candidate that is depending on the young vote needs to remember to make sure the young actually vote.

OddsMakers of Lee Vogler winning a council seat: 100%, Lee Vogler is a lock.


David Luther: David Luther is currently Vice-Mayor and does his homework on every City Council issue. He’s a smart businessman and he brings that experience to the council. Luther is the type of person who tells you the truth, no matter how painful it is.

How David Luther can win the election: Luther needs to press the issue that he brings a business acumen to the council. I’m betting that only about 30% of Danville residents really understand how dire this year’s budget is and it’s not going to get any better. If Luther can get the voters to see that he’s a businessman, he should make it back for another 4-year term.

How David Luther can lose the election: With one incumbent on the chopping block because of the Vogler juggernaut, it’s going to be important for Luther to get some crossover votes from the black voting precincts. If that doesn’t happen, Luther is in danger…but not much danger.

OddsMakers of David Luther winning a council seat: 90%


Fred Shanks: Shanks is a Danville business owner who’s seen tough economic times in his own business. He’s got a lot of city government experience, having served on the Planning Commission before getting elected to City Council. Like David Luther, Shanks is tight on the city treasury. However, Shanks has made his position clear in searching for cuts before tax increases and that’s been well-received by Danville’s taxpayers. Shanks also has higher political aspirations but there’s nothing available right now for him to move up to the state level.

How Fred Shanks can win the election: Shanks is in the same position as David Luther. He’ll win if he drills the bad budget situation into the voters’ heads. Shanks has also got to avoid the inevitable incumbent elimination, but he’s got the name recognition to make it happen.

How Fred Shanks can lose the election: It’s the same issue that David Luther has. Shanks has to attract some of the black vote, but as for now he also seems able to do that.

OddsMakers of Fred Shanks winning a council seat: 90%


Sherman Saunders: The incumbent mayor has taken some heat last year over the budget process. Adam Tomer rightfully called Saunders out during the final budget vote for his “No” vote. Saunders was clearly offended by Tomer’s remarks but other Danville residents agreed, thinking that Saunders went through the entire budget process agreeing with the process but casting a convenient “No” vote when it was clear the pared-down budget was going to pass. That being said, Saunders is probably the best ambassador that Danville has had in a long time. Danville voters associate Saunders with his smiling face and that’s good for the vote totals.

How Sherman Saunders can win the election: It’s probably going to piss a few people off, but I have a record of speaking the painful truth as well. Saunders is going to get a lot of votes in the black voting precincts because of his race. That’s not a racist comment, it’s just a clearly-shown trend based of numerous previous elections. The black voting precincts has shown an obvious trend towards “bullet-voting” (where you can vote up to X number of candidates, but you vote only a smaller number… as in only the candidates that you specifically want to be elected). This hasn’t always worked to perfection as Joyce Glaise was voted off of council before. The question is does Saunders still have overwhelming support in those precincts and I’m not sure of that. For Saunders to survive the elimination, he’s going to have to maintain his likability in the black precincts and hope that the predominately white precincts continue to support him as they have in the past. I believe that Saunders still has a degree of what I’ve just said but I do have some doubts. Saunders has to showcase all of the good things that’s happened over the past four years and keep that smiling face.

How Sherman Saunders can lose the election: If he doesn’t get the black support in this race, Saunders is in danger of elimination.

OddsMakers of Sherman Saunders winning the election: 60%


Larry Campbell: Campbell is soft-spoken but he carries the proverbial big stick. He’s got a dedicated base of support and he’s well-known in the community. Don’t let Campbell’s quietness fool you… he’s heavily involved in what happens in Danville.

How Larry Campbell can win the election: Be seen in public, say the right things and let the votes fall where they will.

How Larry Campbell can lose the election: Ain’t gonna happen.

OddsMakers of Larry Campbell winning the election: 100%


Buddy Rawley: Rawley is an enigma to me. He’s soft-spoken like Campbell but unlike Campbell, a lot of people don’t recognize him at times. He’s conservative in his views but needs to get his views across to mesh with this year’s voters. He’s a man who knows how to manage money, but does he have enough strength to win another term?

How Buddy Rawley can win the election: Rawley needs to be highly visible and strong in this campaign. If voters say “Buddy Who?”, he’s in big danger of not surviving this race. Door-to-door and signs (which means time and money) are going to be key in Rawley’s chances for another term.

How Buddy Rawley can lose the election: If Rawley remains in relative obscurity during the campaign, it’s going to be tough. He can attempt to win the black voters like Luther & Shanks will have to do, but I have this feeling it’s going to take a much harder effort for him to do that. In this year’s race, you’re going to have to avoid finishing sixth (I’ll explain that when I get to Thomas Motley) and I feel Rawley and Saunders are going to have to fight to avoid that spot.

OddsMakers on Buddy Rawley winning the election: 50%


Thomas Motley: Motley is a Danville preacher who is best known for waging war on Danville’s utility rates. He’s won a lot of his utility issues but he’s lacking on other issues that are important to the city. Unfortunately for Danville (no matter how painful it is for me to say it), this is a town that is still divided by racial lines often and Motley has no traction in the “Windsor Heights & Forest Hills” areas. Motley is a very good guy who’s overcome his personal issues in the past, but I just don’t see him getting much support from the white voters in this election. I really wish I was wrong on this, but after seeing the reaction of the “Business People” to Motley’s purple suit that he wore to the 2010 Chamber of Commerce forum, I just don’t see it happening.

How Thomas Motley can win the election: Motley has got to develop a well-rounded platform on the issues facing Danville and not focus on utility bills. Motley also needs a lot of door-to-door campaigning in areas that didn’t support him in 2010 and make voters realize he’s a viable candidate.  He’s also going to need almost-unanimous support in the black community and get a good amount of white voter support. Motley’s campaign in 2010 was woefully underfunded and he never had a real chance to win then, which is sad because he was a viable candidate with ideas of his own. He’s going to need a lot of money to get his message across.

How Thomas Motley can lose the election: Of all of the seven candidates in this year’s race, Motley is the longshot in the field. He’s going to have appeal to all voters and I just don’t think he can do that. There are also a lot of narrow-minded people that will bring up Motley’s past and use that against him. That’s not fair to him as he has changed himself and became a good citizen… but that’s another sad part of the mindset of Danville voters. Motley would make a good councilman like the rest of the field, but it’s just not going to happen unless he pulls off the longshot.

OddsMakers on Thomas Motley winning the election: 5%


Recap: Yeah, I said it and I’ll say it again. Danville can be racially divided on a lot of things and elections are one of them. Yell at me all you want, call me whatever names you want, but the numbers show the trend. Now let’s get to the real recap…

Lee Vogler is on fire. He’s got likability and campaign money. He’s in as a challenger barring a complete meltdown and he’ll probably get the most votes if he doesn’t piss off the rich voters (believe it or not, Danville has some rich people left). Larry Campbell is also a lock for re-election based on his support base.

Fred Shanks & David Luther should be safe in this election if they spend the money necessary to run a good campaign. If they reach out to the voters who are taxpayers and preach their message, they should win.

Thomas Motley just doesn’t have much of a chance in this field, though it would be fun to see a “Why The Hell Not?” anti-incumbent surge put him on the council. I fully expect Motley to keep up his utility bill fight no matter what happens.

So as of now, that’s one out and four in for five seats. We’re down to Sherman Saunders & Buddy Rawley and this is going to get interesting. I expect zero negative campaigning in this race from all of the candidates so I believe it’s going to be who reaches out and connects with the voters. Saunders has the smiling face and recognition advantage over Rawley now, but there’s a lot of time for that to change. You can ask Seward Anderson (a former Danville mayor) on how fickle the voters can be. He hasn’t won anything since his council days. Will Saunders go from mayor to out-the-door? We’ll find out soon enough. Now that I’m not in the television business, I plan on issuing endorsements in political races from now on but at this time I’m not ready to tell you who I’ll be voting for because I’m not sure yet.

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8 comments to Danville City Council Race (2012) – Update #1

  • Bernard Baker

    I can’t disagree with what you wrote. Lee will do well. He’s visible and raised a lot of money as you wrote.. I don’t he needs endorsements from GOP guns. Who cares in a race for city council. Save it for the House of Delegates race. I like him.
    Sherman did PO a lot of people in the budget process last year. Don’t blame the city manager and lose your cool in the mayor’s chair.
    I put Rawley and Shanks in the blot (yes, blot). Buddy’s signs went up this weekend. I’ve seen nothing from Fred. Buddy should thank God for the photos in Sunday’s paper, but will people connect the dots that he’s running for re-election? Personality wise, they are different as daylight and dark.
    David: agreed. I helped David get about 30 last-minute petitions signed on the last day of filing. Everyone who signed support him for re-election
    Larry: he can cross-pollinate. Strong support in the African-American community and the business community likes him.
    Motley: whites are scared of him and he may not have the level of African-American support he needs. Poor marks for working and playing well with others. He’s a One-Note Nellie.

    • Felicia Culley

      Mr. Baker, white people don’t have to fear this man. What is it that scares you? Is it that he is for what’s right and he stands against the wrong in this city. He has never done any harm to any indivdual in this city. Is it because he won’t bow down. He only bows befor God. And yes he does have the African American Support, he’s always had it. The problem is we will not get out and vote.He’s not a one- not nellie as you call him he has a very strong support group and he values and listens to everyone. It seems to me you have a personal problem, and again I will say he is a problem solver. Have a conversation with him. He plays and works will with others. Maybe he doesn’t want to play your game beause there’s to much cheating and he’s not a cheater. You have to give him credit where credit is do. He really cares about the people in this city. He’s the only person I know who will stand up and help the people in this city. If you took the time to get to know him like you know the other’s whom are running for council you would see he’s a good man to have on your side because he will be the best friend you could ever have. His concerns are for every one in this city not just a certain target area.

  • Lee Vogler

    Bruce, thanks for the insight. Despite your confidence, I still believe our campaign is the underdog. Running against 5 incumbents with 42 years in office between them is a tall order.

    The people of this city can rest assured that I will constantly be promoting Danville to our state leaders. As Virginia’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer, Bill Bolling plays a very crucial role in bringing jobs to our state. I want to make sure Danville is always at the top of the list when those jobs are being considered.

    As honored as I am to have the Lieutenant Governor’s support, the most important endorsement I could EVER receive is from YOU, the PEOPLE of Danville. We have an opportunity to make history on May 1, 2012. I hope you will join our effort.

  • Sheila

    The play book: Got to beat 42 years in office. You want hear that it takes five (5) people to make up that 42 years of “experience” and there is something to be said for experience of such magnitude. Experience over history making-which is the most preferred?

    • Alex

      Seems like the people overwhelmingly chose to make history. And as far as I can tell so far, Vogler isn’t just a token seat on the council. He’s out in the public and he’s quite fierce in the council chambers. He took that GW football complex gentleman to task. He’s got a bright future ahead of him if he doesn’t let the naysayers beat him up too much.

  • Felicia Culley

    Rev. Motley has a very good chance of winning city council if the black community will get out and vote for him. He is a problem solver and that’s what I’m looking for in a city councilman. He’s has more to offer than any one else on city council. Remember he’s doing this on his own, he’s not been groomed by any of the other city council members as the other person’s running before and are running now. Rev.Motley has a vision for this city, you only speak against him because he’s a strong educated man with a back bone and he does not agree with the actions that city council has taken over the years and there record speaks for itself. So, he’s not welcome on city council because he would vote against all the under handed backdoor issues. Tell the truth. He is a good person for city council; he’s just not going to vote with the majority when he knows it’s not right. Let’s go back and look at some history with our city councilman whom you think are doing a wonderful job:$485,000 check written on the utility account by our former city manager(no charges bought against this man), Olive Garden is here in Danville(paid to come here by our city dollars and tobacco exchange comm.) as if we needed another restaurant, $450,000 now owed to the state because our intelligent leaders didn’t think to put some type of clause or stipulation with Swedwood that if the rails are not used in five years the money would have to be paid back. NO one thought to say to Swedwood, if you don’t use these rail you (Swedwood) would have to pay it back. The Coleman Market Place which promised 200 jobs but there’s only seventy five. What happen to accountability? Whether Rev. Motley makes it on city council or not his work will continue. You see he doesn’t sit on any board or committees he’s just a dedicated man in doing what right for everyone, not just a certain targeted group of people that’s why the last two city councilman decided to run at the last minute but we knew all along they would run. Last election he obtained 2024 votes and there are more to come this Election Day. And stop talking about something in his past(32 years ago) when he was in college. We all have a past we’re not proud of, we just didn’t get caught. You say that Councilman Shanks is for cuts before tax increases well these cut have cost several people their jobs including city employees. If you notice you now have one person driving the city trash truck and that driver has to also collect all the trash. He’s doing the job of three people. Just how many city employees have lost their jobs that have mortgages to pay, utilities, groceries college tuition etc…? You say Councilman Rawley knows how to manage money, well just go back and read what I stated about waste less spending in this city. You stated whites are scared of Rev. Motley, he is the most caring, humble and compassionate man I know. Get to know this man and listen to him, he’s not a man to be afraid of. He’s a man of character and a man of God. He has a lot to say it’s not all about utilities but I’m glad he stood his ground. He saw there was a problem with some of the citizens with paying their utilities and asked city council for help (they did nothing). He came up with what is known as his 7 point plan for utility relief that wouldn’t cost the city one brown penny, just a change in policy. I thank our wonderful city manager Mr. Joe King for meeting with this man. He’s a problem solver. That’s what I’m looking for, people that are problem solvers not politician that will tell me what I want to hear because it’s election time. I’m voting for the person that I know will listen to my concerns and solve problems that we have in this city. Not some problems but all problems. That’s what you as city councilman are supposed to do. It is so many problems in this city that have not and will not be addressed by our city councilmen because we don’t have a voice on city council and that’s a fact! Mayor Sherman Saunders did the right thing in voting against everything in this past budget because it was all wrong, and I take my hat off to him for doing so. It’s not just about you it’s about every one that is a citizen of Danville regardless of race or income. When will people get that? He who has his worldly goods and see his brother in need and shut up his bowel of compassion how dwelleth the love of God in him. And those are not my words. We need a facility for abused women and children, we need a facility for men with substance abuse problems, we need a community outreach center for our youth, we need internships with business owners who will employ our youth, we need to have more events at the Carrington Pavilion that will generate money in this city (events not only for white people but for black people to). When Rev.Motley decided to run in 2010 he didn’t and still has no one to groom him for a seat on city council but I thank God for giving this man the intelligence in knowing what to do. He has my one and only vote! My head is not in the sand and I also see things for what they are and I have a voice to.

  • Averett Student Community Engagement League

    For all who are interested in getting to know the candidates better, please make an effort to attend the first City Council Debate ever held at Averett University’s Prichett Auditorium on Wednesday April 4, at 7 p.m. Featuring: Lee Volger, David Luther, Fred Shanks, Buddy Rawley, Sherman Saunders, and Larry Campbell. Come out and support your candidate.

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