By Brandon Martin
There’s a new name on the ballot this year for Martinsville City Council, as Nelson Coleman Edwards became the first candidate to submit the required 125 names and declaration of candidacy in the November election.
Edwards’ ties to the area run deep as the son of former Dupont retirees and brother of former Martinsville High School Head Football Coach Taylor Edwards.
Nelson Edwards also has made his own mark, teaching band and music for a total of 31 years, including 15 in Henry County schools.
Edwards said that he was encouraged to run by Danny Turner, a current council member. At the time, Edwards said he was uncertain why he was the right man for the job.
“I asked, ‘why me? I’ve got a degree (from Radford University) in music so what can I do,’” he recalled, and added that Turner responded, “’you’ve got common sense.’”
Edwards said that collecting signatures was more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic because people are less prone to want to come close enough to sign the petition. Instead, Edwards said he relied on his community ties, and only visited houses of people he already knew.
Moving forward, Edwards said that the two most important things for local governments to provide is public safety and a great learning environment. He also plans to fight to keep electric rates down.
One thing that Edwards says he is eyeing closely is the reversion process.
“We need reversion,” he said. “We don’t have the tax base and we are going to need solid leadership in place for that,” he said.
That’s why Edwards said it is so important that the city conduct “an open and wide-ranging interview” for the next city manager after current City Manager Leon Towarnicki retires.
He hopes the successful applicant will join in his effort to be more involved with the state government to improve Martinsville and help the city transition into a town.
Edwards said he sees the local area as “a great place to open a business and raise a family.” Something he would know about, having raised two sons, Cole and Daniel, in the area. Cole currently lives in Austin, TX., and Daniel lives in Martinsville, with Edwards’ grandson, Easton. His parents are Norman and Eldean Edwards. His father grew up in Pittsylvania County; his mother was raised in Patrick County.