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Roanoke candidates for mayor prepare for weekend primary

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Three new Roanoke City Councilors and the next Mayor may be decided as early as this weekend.

The city's Democratic Party is hosting a "Firehouse Primary" to decide its candidates, and with no Republicans stepping forward yet, the winners will be the favorites for the positions.

When voters enter the booths at the Berglund Center this Saturday, they'll have two choices: Current Vice Mayor David Trinkle, or 12 year council veteran Sherman Lea. One of the two candidates will likely be the next head of Roanoke's government, but without an absentee option available, candidates first need to get people to the polls.

"I'm hoping all the candidates like I'm doing are really out trying to drum up people to come out," said Trinkle.

Once the voters are there, Trinkle and Lea both say they'll be showing people how their expertise in office will lead to success on pivotal issues.

The most important of those for both candidates is economic development.

"I think if we're going to be successful in a lot of areas, especially in the area of economic development, we have to sell our area as one locality, and my background and history reveals that I've done that," said Lea.

Trinkle says jobs will come when people are ready to fill them.

"We need to make sure our workforce is motivated, healthy, trained, certificate programs, and ready to work, and with that I really do think businesses will start to locate here," said Trinkle.

But to bring businesses to the city, both candidates agree it has to be safe to live there.

"When you look at our budget, our number 2 priority in this city was public safety, and is public safety, and I'm fortunate that I have a career, I worked 35 years as a regional director of probation and parole services," said Lea.

Trinkle says a program developed by Police Chief Chris Perkins is taking a step in the right direction.

"He's arranged immediate access to substance abuse treatment for people that are arrested that are willing to go into treatment and have a mentor and stick with the treatment in order to avoid the charges, and that's the type of thing we need to do more of," said Trinkle.

People will get the chance to hear the candidates talk about those issues publicly Thursday night at a forum in Center in the Square hosted by the Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The primary this weekend will be from noon to 7 at the Berglund Center.

In addition to the mayoral race, voters will choose 3 out of the 6 current Democratic candidates for city council.

The city's Republican committee is hosting its selection on the 25th.