Mar 9, 2010

Student to run for city council

by Melinda Zosh

“Fresh outlooks, fresh face, fresh Lynchburg.”

Liberty junior Brent Robertson will be living by these words until city council election day May 4.

Robertson filed his petition to run as an independent on Monday March 1, but he first decided to run for election in October 2009, he said. He was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, but Lynchburg has become his new home.

“(City council has) had experienced people running this city, but fresh ideas and a fresh face is what (Lynchburg) needs,” Robertson said. “Young is not a bad thing. “

Between classes, Robertson serves as his own campaign manager. Junior government major Mike Zapitella met Robertson at the Tilley Student Center last week, and the 20-year-old made a good impression, he said.

“I thought it was impressive to see a student taking initiative like that,” Zapitella said. “He has a good edge because he is interacting with us. He knows our needs.”

Zapitella lives in dorm 7-1, and he often dashes through traffic to cross Wards Road on foot. Robertson has vowed to make Wards Road pedestrian-friendly by adding sidewalks, he said.

“City Council has not appropriated a single dime (for Wards Road),” Robertson said. “Wards Road brings in more money than anywhere in the city, and it is nasty out there (for pedestrians).”

At the local level, partisan choice should not matter as much, Robertson said, because voters have pre-dispositions about what each party represents, according to Robertson.

“When you hear democrat, you think more social programs, high spending and increase in taxes,” Robertson said. “When you hear republican, you think they are going to cut social programs and taxes.”

Political party stereotypes are one of the reasons why Robertson, a government major, decided to run as an independent.

“Partisan politics gets in the way,” Robertson said. “When you run as an independent, people actually care and say, ‘Why is he running? What does he stand for?’”

Uniting Liberty students with city constituents is one of Robertson’s priorities, he said.

“I have made it clear I’m not running for Liberty University by any means,” Robertson said. “People might be angry that a 20-year-old is running, but by the time April rolls around, they will realize I’m not running as or for Liberty.”

Politics and policy major Donald Gallo, a junior at Liberty, changed his voter registration from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Robertson might be a good option for city council, Gallo said.

“It would be nice to have a younger voice representing all the college students,” Gallo said. “ (He) would be able to present our concerns and problems and be able to help us out.”

Revitalizing Lynchburg’s downtown area is one of Robertson’s campaign platforms. If elected, he plans to offer tax incentives to private businesses, entrepreneurs and contractors building downtown.

“I am a very business-minded person, and there is a lot of potential in Lynchburg,” Robertson said. “There are new jobs that could flourish, because this is a growing community.”

Robertson hopes that people will look at his platform before making assumptions about his age and status as a student.
“If Liberty, Lynchburg College and Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) students are able to look at my candidacy and say, ‘He stands for things I stand for,’ as well as the people of Lynchburg, maybe we are not enemies after all,” Robertson said. “I hope to be the common ground.”

Those interested in joining Robertson’s campaign, may e-mail

Contact Melinda Zosh at

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