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Roanoke Democrats fill vacant leadership posts

Roanoke Democrats fill vacant leadership posts

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New leadership has been selected by the Roanoke City Democratic Committee to replace several officials who resigned or went on leave, including indicted Roanoke Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr.

Jeffrey, who is scheduled to be tried next month on two felony embezzlement charges, took a leave of absence from the role of first vice chair, according to newly elected committee Chairman Luke Priddy.

The committee went through a period during the summer with three of the top five executives leaving over a few days – but has since rebuilt its executive ranks from a combination of new and former members.

In the July wave of departures, former Chairwoman Beth Deel and former Secretary Barbara Andes quit the committee for what they said were personal and family-related reasons. Priddy, who had been treasurer, also quit.

Priddy also declined a nomination to succeed Deel as chair. At the time, he said he did not feel that he would have had sufficient internal support to succeed in the top role, especially from the two men serving as vice chairs at the time, Jeffrey and Peter Volosin. Jeffrey and Volosin disagreed and told The Roanoke Times that they would have supported Priddy, but by that time Priddy was out.

Priddy has returned and was elected chair in August. He expressed a changed view of the organization Wednesday.

“With this new Executive Committee made up of current and former leadership, I feel confident in our ability to support Democrats to obtain and win elected office and to carry out our duties under the Code of Virginia,” he said by email.

In addition, he said that when he quit he had planned to be out of the country on Election Eay in November. His travel plans have since changed and he will be in town for the remainder of the campaign season that ends when voters go to the polls Nov. 2, he said.

The present committee leadership also consists of Vice Chairwoman Julie Wagner, who works in human resources and previously served as a vice chair; Second Vice Chairman Volosin, who works in real estate; Secretary Stephen Niamke, a mental health worker and former committee chair; and Treasurer Patrick Giallorenzo, legislative assistant to state Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke.

Priddy is Edwards’ chief of staff.

Committee members are anticipating several contests in the upcoming election. Roanoke attorney Melvin Hill, a Democrat, is challenging Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell, who is running as an independent. Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, is seeking reelection with opposition from Republican Charlie Nave, a Roanoke attorney.

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Jeff Sturgeon covers the city of Roanoke, including schools, banking and transportation. Phone: (540) 981-3251. Email: jeff.sturgeon@roanoke.com. Mail: 201 W. Campbell Ave., Roanoke, VA 24011.

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