By Leigh Dannhauser and Emily Leventhal
Local banker Frank W. Friedman has regained a seat on the Lexington City Council two years after losing his bid for reelection. He won the largest number of votes Tuesday, while Marylin E. Alexander was reelected to the council with the second highest number of votes.
“I’m just relieved that it’s over,” Alexander said from home after a long day outside the city’s polling station. “And now that I know who all will be on city council with me, I look forward to working with each of them.”
Newcomer Camille Wright Miller won the third open seat on the council, leaving local businessman John W. Morman as the loser in the race.
Friedman garnered almost 29 percent of the vote, with 1,522 votes. Alexander had 1,381 votes and Miller had 1,237. Morman received 1,080.
Council Member Mary Harvey-Halseth, by losing her race for mayor, will remain on the council.
“Exciting times ahead because we have so much to get done,” Alexander said.
Vice Mayor Bob Lera and Council Member David Cox did not run for re-election. All six seats on City Council represent the city at-large.
Local elections in Virginia are officially nonpartisan, but Morman had the endorsement of the Rockbridge area’s Republican Party.
During the campaign all four candidates identified economic development as a priority.
Miller, a business consultant, advocated using city money to create a lending program for improving the downtown area.
“It would be low-interest loans for those who use nonlocal labor and no interest loans for those that use local labor,” she said.
In her campaign, Alexander said Lexington could consider creating a new position designated for economic help.
“I am hoping that we will look at the possibilities of an economic development director for the city of Lexington,” she said. “[He or she] would not only do work for us but for the entire area and partner with Buena Vista as well as Rockbridge County to find some sustainable jobs in this area.”
The candidates also agreed that Lexington needs to attract business owners.
“I think that the biggest piece would be making Lexington perceived as a business-friendly and enjoyable place to do business,” said Friedman, who served on the council from 2007 to 2010. “Right now I’m not so sure that we’re perceived that way.”
Candidates also said the city needed to balance concern about economic growth with preserving the city’s history.
“Lexington is unique, and I think we need to continue to improve what we have but at the same time not relinquish what we have,” Friedman said.
“I don’t think that you could live in Lexington and decide to lose the tradition,” said Miller. “You have to recognize that’s part of who we are, but we can grow on that without losing that sense of place.”