Resurgent Roanoke Democrats recaptured a majority of the Roanoke City Council on Tuesday and delivered historic diversity to the body.Joe Cobb and Djuna Osborne ran away from the field with more than a fifth of the vote each, while incumbent Bill Bestpitch captured a new term. Incumbent Ray Ferris, an independent, was ousted and came in fifth, less than 200 votes behind Democrat Robert Jeffrey Jr. Independents Grover Price and Shawn Hunter finished far back.One seat was open because David Trinkle did not seek re-election.Cobb, the first openly gay person elected to the council, was the top vote-getter and will become vice mayor. Osborne will join independent Michelle Dykstra and Democratic Vice Mayor Anita Price to form the first trio of women ever to sit on Roanoke’s seven-member council.Come July, white men will be a minority on the council.“This is a clear statement of we want some change, but also bringing back experience,” said Cobb, 56, a former minister and … [Read more...] about ‘Blue wave’ lifts Joe Cobb, Djuna Osborne to Roanoke council seats; Bill Bestpitch re-elected
Minister Joe Cobb was the top vote-getter in Tuesday's city council election and will become its first openly gay member, as voters also overwhelmingly chose fellow Democrat Djuna Osborne. Incumbent Bill Bestpitch eked out narrow win over the third Democrat in the race, Robert Jeffrey Jr.Leaving the city council at the end of June after two terms will be Ray Ferris, who finished nearly 200 votes behind Jeffrey. Rounding out the field in sixth and seventh were community activists Grover Price and Shawn Hunter.The results from the State Board of Elections are unofficial, and include 218 write-in votes.Cobb, 56, stepped down from his job as pastor of Metropolitan Community Church in Roanoke last year and has been an outspoken LGBTQ advocate in the city for years.Osborne, 42, is a clinical social worker who helped organize the January 2016 Women's March on Roanoke. She lost a bid in November for a Virginia House of Delegates seat representing a heavily Republican district in the Roanoke … [Read more...] about Joe Cobb, Djuna Osborne, Bill Bestpitch take Roanoke council seats
Bill Bestpitch is seeking a third consecutive term on Roanoke City Council — and a fourth overall — because his work isn’t done yet, he said.The city is moving in a good direction, he said, so why change pilots now?“We’ve been making decisions based on what is going to be best for the city of Roanoke and for all of our citizens in the long run,” he said.Bestpitch was elected in 2014 as an independent and is running again as one in tandem with fellow incumbent Ray Ferris, but he’s served two terms as a Democrat. And while he’s in a race against three Democrats, he still strongly identifies as one.Bestpitch has raised $19,444 in this race — an amount second only to Ferris’ — and that includes some large donations from donors who typically support Democrats, as well as some Republicans.Bestpitch touts the city’s recent economic development successes, from the creation of the innovation corridor around the Virginia … [Read more...] about Bill Bestpitch sees Roanoke on an upswing during his years of council service
Robert Jeffrey came back to Roanoke a few years ago after living in Seattle for 20 years.He was surprised by the thriving downtown here. But he was disappointed to see his old northwest neighborhood dotted with failing or closed businesses where they had been succeeding when he left.More recently, he watched what he called a “venomous” 2016 presidential election and was alarmed to see that “the venom was being rewarded.”Raised by two civil rights activists, Jeffrey said the logical response was to get involved. Last fall, he became the first of three Democrats to announce bids for the Roanoke City Council.So far, according to his latest campaign finance report, Jeffrey has raised more than $14,000, including $2,820 he loaned his campaign. His Democratic ticket mates have each raised roughly the same amount.Jeffrey owns Colors VA magazine and an employment website called ColorsCareers.com. He’s also served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the United … [Read more...] about Candidate Robert Jeffrey Jr. says he can play valuable role on Roanoke council, despite past financial problems
Is it a throw-the-bums-out kind of year for the Roanoke City Council?Three Democratic and two independent challengers to incumbent Councilmen Ray Ferris and Bill Bestpitch in the May 1 race for three seats are hoping so.If they’re right, it would seem to signal a shift from apparent voter satisfaction with who is on council and the direction of the city — at least if voter turnout is any indication.Beginning in 2010, after years of turmoil and change on the council tied mostly to the angry, emotional debate about whether to restore or demolish Victory Stadium, council membership has been stable — and the number of votes cast in council elections has fallen off dramatically. It’s declined each of the last three elections.In the four elections between 2000 and 2004, an average of 33,661 votes were cast in Roanoke council elections — not including votes in mayoral races. Each individual voter can cast up to three ballots.The peak came in 2006 at 40,251 … [Read more...] about Will the fall’s electoral tide extend to Roanoke’s spring council election?