February 8, 2019
To all Roanoke Democrats:

Just like you, we have watched with sadness the events that have played out this week in Richmond. We felt it important to let you all know that we remain committed to what is important, which is the implementation of public policy that benefits all of us, regardless of political party, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ableness or circumstances of birth. While we promote candidates for office, we do so with the knowledge that no individual is more important than the ultimate goals, and that office holders, as much as we may come to like them, are but vessels for the pursuit of those goals. Though we have been deeply disappointed in the behavior of some of our highest elected officials, we know that there are many able and dedicated public servants in Virginia who, at some point, will take the place of the current office holders. While we stand behind our earlier call for Gov. Northam’s resignation, which we believe would be the first step toward healing of our commonwealth, we, the foot-soldiers of the Democratic Party cannot force the needed change to occur on a specific schedule.

We will therefore focus on the important work that we can do. We have elections every year in Virginia, and this year’s elections are especially important. All members of the General Assembly (House and Senate) are up for election this fall. Democrats stand one seat short of a tie, and two seats short of a majority in both chambers. All of our policy objectives will be advanced by winning additional seats in the legislature, and all of them will suffer if we do not. If that were not enough, the legislature we elect this fall will have responsibility for drawing the districts to be used for the next 10 years. We will field a strong slate of progressive-minded candidates for these positions, and they need assistance, as do we as a committee. We welcome volunteers as well as monetary donations, and we are already hard at work setting the stage for a successful election year. We meet the third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m., and welcome new members. If you can help, please message us, or watch for the next meeting announcement. This is a time for all of us who care about economic and social justice, about protecting our planet, about preserving our democratic institutions, about educating the next generation of leaders, about addressing drug abuse and gun violence, and many more to come together to do the work of creating a better Virginia. With your help, we will. Roanoke City Democrats vote every day.

Stephen Niamke, Chair
Beth Deel, Vice-chair
Chris Fury, Secretary
Ryan LaFountain, Treasurer

A Statement from the Executive Committee of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee Regarding Governor Ralph S. Northam


The Executive Officers of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee call for the immediate resignation of Governor Ralph Northam. The horrifying picture in the yearbook, coupled with his decision to turn a blind eye to the environmental racism at work at Union Hill in Buckingham County, is entirely indefensible. This is no time for excuses; we need clear-eyed leadership in this time of national upheaval.

Stephen Niamke, Chair
Beth Deel, Vice Chair
Christopher Fury, Secretary
Ryan LaFountain, Treasurer


Moonshine & Democrats

We are SO EXCITED to host Moonshine & Democrats!  Please check out our constantly updating facebook event

Moonshine and Democrats is going to be an amazing fundraiser – Saturday, 01Sep at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.    We really hope to see you there!  Proceeds will be going to our local candidates.
It’s a prohibition era themed evening, and it takes place on the 97th Anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain.  Costumes are requested, but not required!  But seriously – there will be photo ops and how much fun is it to get dressed up? 🙂

Here’s the schedule:

Guests Arrive:  6:00 pm   Cocktails/Dinner (Railyard Plaza)
The Galactics & Friends foot-stomping music
Silent Auction (Main Hallway/Main Street)
Guests can self-explore museum
Local historical presentations
Sen. John Edwards
Del. Lee Carter
Congressional Candidate Jennifer Lewis
Congressional Candidate Anthony Flaccavento
Va Delegate Candidate Carter Turner
Prohibition Period car for photo op in Lobby Area
Train Rides to Henry Street and back
Franklin County Distillery Tasting Table
Live Auction
We will be decorating a train balcony with patriotic bunting, and having our political speakers giving their remarks in a 1930s style train politicking!  We will be having both a silent auction & live auction, with proceeds to benefit our candidates.
You won’t want to miss this!  Buy Tickets here!

City Council Democratic Nominees Joint Statement on Gun Violence

February 22, 2018

Democratic Ticket for Roanoke City Council Committed to Progressive Action to Address Gun Violence  

Democrats Joe Cobb, Robert Jeffrey Jr., Djuna Osborne Outline Action Plan

ROANOKE, Va. – The Democratic candidates for the May 1st City Council race released the following joint statement regarding efforts to address gun violence:

Last week our nation saw once again a tragedy caused by gun violence. Our own city has also seen far too many lives impacted by gun violence. We are united in our commitment to promote immediate and sustainable action to make Roanoke a safer city. The effort to prevent gun violence requires action by local leaders and not just condolences after lives have been lost. As members of Roanoke City Council, we will work together to make Roanoke a safer place and address gun violence by:

  • Creating a citywide taskforce to address systemic issues contributing to gun violence and developing meaningful measures for gun violence prevention;
  • Continuously including in the city’s legislative agenda a request for the General Assembly to add Roanoke to a list of Virginia localities where assault rifles are banned in public places and the implementation of common sense statewide gun control legislation;
  • Collaborating with Roanoke City Public Schools, and local and national organizations, such as One Day One Voice and Be Smart, to provide gun violence prevention resources to schools, including students, parents, teachers, and administrators;
  • Partnering with public, private and non-profit organizations operating in Roanoke as well as neighborhoods and individuals to educate citizens on the impact of trauma.

Together, with private and public partnerships, we will implement a strategic plan that includes engagement not only from local leaders, but neighborhoods and citizens to reduce gun violence in our communities. Together we will work to become a trauma-informed city and bring healing to all impacted by gun and other violence.

Promoting action to address gun violence is critically important. The threat of gun violence requires action now to protect our children, families, and community. We are committed to taking every action necessary to reduce gun violence in our city.

For more information:


Roanoke City Democratic Committee – Day of Action — Roanoke City Council

Calling All Democrats! 

Please join us this weekend to as we work to elect our Democratic Candidates to Roanoke City Council!

We won beyond our expectations last November because of the hard work of strong Democrats like you.   Help carry that momentum forward and let Roanoke City, Virginia and the Nation know that Democrats are ready to work and will not be stopped.

Join us this Saturday
February 10, 2018, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Delegate Sam Rasoul’s Office
3027-C Peters Creek Road Roanoke, VA 24017
Contact Chris Fury @ (540)265-2669
if you need assistance

Sign up on Facebook

Featured Guest Speaker:

Mayor Sherman Lea

Schedule of Events:
9:00 – 10:00 AM: Volunteers Arrive
10:00 – 10:30 AM: Mayor Lea Speaks
10:30: Canvassing Begins

Meet the Roanoke City Council Democratic Candidates

Three candidates properly filed for the three open seats for Democratic Party Nomination in the upcoming Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Election for Roanoke City Council. The number of candidates equal the number of available seats; therefore, the Unassembled Caucus (Firehouse Primary) on Saturday, February 10, 2018 is cancelled.  Our Candidates for City Council are, in order of filing:

Joe Cobb

has dedicated his life to empowering others to create a better world. He’s been a member of clergy here and beyond since 1985, served as Executive Director of Roanoke’s Interfaith Hospitality Network, and has ceaselessly worked on social justice advocacy throughout his career. He’s ready to learn about, champion, and take action on the issues near & dear to your heart to shape a city where people, businesses, and the arts can thrive.  He wants to ensure that the city we love is welcoming and full of opportunities for all–regardless of gender, gender identity, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, physical abilities, health, or religion.

Find out more about Joe

Robert Jeffrey, Jr.

is a Progressive Democrat running for Roanoke City Council. He is committed father, grandfather, small business owner, and civic leader. Jeffrey was born and raised in the city; graduating from Roanoke public schools.  As publisher of community-focused ColorsVA Magazine, his pursuit is to bring our diverse neighborhoods together by “Celebrating Our Similarities; Understanding Our Differences”.  Robert is active board member for the Goodwill Industries of the Valley and participates in numerous volunteer activities to support children and families as a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.  Jeffrey graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree.

Find out more about Robert

Djuna Osborne

is a clinical social worker who is deeply passionate about the people of Roanoke. She is running for City Council because she believes that we deserve to have a city that works for all of us, no matter where we live, work, shop, or play.  Djuna moved back to her husband’s hometown to raise their family and is fighting to make sure that all families can thrive here and call Roanoke home, too

Find out more about Djuna

Please like our Facebook page for news and events regarding our candidates and don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, May 1, 2018!

Call to Caucus for Roanoke City Council 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



Contact: Stephen Niamke
Chair, Roanoke City Democratic Committee
(540) 519-4211

There are three (3) open seats available for Democratic Party Nomination in the upcoming Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Election for Roanoke City Council.

The Roanoke City Democratic Committee will be holding an Unassembled Caucus (Firehouse Primary) at this place and time:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

9:00 am – 6:00pm

The Berglund Center
710 Williamson Rd NE
Roanoke, VA 24016

in order to nominate our candidates for the positions.

For details, and the rules regarding the Firehouse Primary, please see the official Call to Caucus document.

Candidates wishing to file for nomination must submit a Declaration of Candidacy Form and pay Filing Fees by no later than Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 5:00pm, following the instructions provided in the Call to Caucus and the prior Pre-Filing Announcement.

Pre-Filing for Democratic Nomination to Roanoke City Council

Wednesday, January 17, 2018



Stephen Niamke
Chair, Roanoke City Democratic Committee
(540) 519-4211

There are three (3) open seats available for Democratic Party Nomination in the upcoming Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Election for Roanoke City Council.

The Roanoke City Democratic Committee will be holding an unassembled Caucus (Firehouse Primary) on Saturday, February 10, 2018, for the purposes of selecting the Democratic Party’s Nominees for this office.   The formal Call to Caucus, including the time, location, filing fees, and other rules governing the process will be announced on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

In order to be on the ballot and secure an opportunity to be selected as one of three Democratic Nominees for Roanoke City Council, candidates must declare their candidacy by Pre-Filing.  Candidates must download and fill out the Declaration of Candidacy form.

The form is available now, and candidates for Democratic Nomination may begin the Pre-Filing Process.

Declaration of Candidacy Forms must be returned and Filing Fees paid no later than Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 5:00pm using one of the methods described in the instructions included with the form.


Welcome to 2018!

Greetings One and All,

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the holidays and that the new year looks promising for you and yours. I am excited about what lies ahead for the Roanoke City Democratic Committee.   I look forward to working with you as we launch a campaign centered upon a theme that calls for us to VOTE EVERY DAY.   This is a standing invitation to join the Roanoke City Democratic Committee on January 18, 2018 and every day. This is a call for you to MAKE YOUR MARK on the ballot on election day, but in the community every day.

As I have become increasingly involved in the community and local politics, I have come to understand that voting isn’t an activity reserved only for election day. Making your mark or a difference in the community takes much more than an occasional effort. We must make a sustained effort. We must demonstrate consistency. We must run the marathon, endure the gauntlet, and make the sacrifice. We must fully appreciate the role casting a ballot has in defining policy. We must understand that policy or legislation is the defining component in the quality of life for the average citizen in the United States of America, the State of Virginia, and the City of Roanoke. We must organize ourselves in a manner that allows us to effectively assert our influence in the interest of our children, the environment, and those who have been marginalized or minoritized. We must make our mark. We must VOTE EVERY DAY.

My calendar is marked for Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 6pm and for the same time the third Thursday of every month. I trust that yours is too. My ballot will be marked in the interest of the people, the planet, and progress. I trust that yours will be too.

Thanks for all you do,
Stephen Niamke
Chair, Roanoke City Democratic Committee

Why am I a Democrat? I remember.

“Why are you a Democrat, Ryan? I just don’t get it.”

That conversation happens a lot more than I care to admit and I can only give a two word answer: I remember. Of course, there’s a lot more to the answer than simply two words, but that’s the gist of it. It doesn’t have the same implications of the je me souviens of my Québécois forebears, but it’s all about remembering. Years ago, before moving to Roanoke, I waited tables. If you’ve never waited tables before, let it just be said that it is a character-building exercise. Between discovering how I related with others and the capacity to generate income from waiting tables at a national chain, it was a significant learning experience.

But there was more. Have you ever been injured on the job? Do you remember that story from the 1990s of the woman who sued McDonald’s following being scalded by their superheated coffee? Well, here’s a combo platter for you. About a month after I began working at the chain restaurant, I was severely burned by a faulty hot-water dispenser attached to a tea brewer. My right hand experienced blistering and it hurt like an angry mother.  I was 22 and I had no idea what to do. My employer was useless. So I iced it. No health insurance; couldn’t go to the doctor. Obamacare was still the fevered dream of a liberal, so I couldn’t get coverage from under a parent’s plan. My hand blistered and slowly healed without medical attention; I have no idea what infections I could have exposed myself during that period of unsupervised recuperation. Of course, the bills needed to get paid, no such thing as paid time off when you’re working a low-wage, low-skill job.

A couple weeks after the hot water incident, I developed a cold. Coughing here, there, everywhere. Again, I couldn’t go without the income, so I became patient zero in whatever petri dish that this restaurant was in March of 2007. This cold didn’t respond to a mass influx of OTC medications and an endless stream of citrus and evolved into pneumonia. Again, no doctor options since I had no insurance and the limited income also limited how much medication I could reasonably purchase. It sucked. I was sick for 4 weeks. 4 weeks of hacking and coughing, having a hard time breathing, and having to work for a crowd of people. By the way, have you tried doing a job interview while having a fever of 102 degrees?

It’s an experience, I’ll tell you what.

But that, in short form, is why I’m a Democrat. That’s why I support a living wage or some sort of basic income for every person, universal health care access, and strong labor rights with robust private-sector unions that collectively bargain for all employees. Because for a short period of my life, I learned what it was like to live adjacent to the margins, not truly on the margins, since I could rely on my education and privileged position in society to get me out of the table-waiting game. And while I had always thought of myself as a Democrat before, up until that point, I didn’t understand the implications. It was always an abstraction. Health care was an abstraction. Insurance was an abstraction. Everything was an abstraction from a book. Never real, never experienced. Until then.

That, my friends, that is why I am a Democrat.


(This post was adapted from my original post located here: