The Honorable Djuna Osborne is a dear friend of mine and was an excellent addition to Roanoke City Council. Her unique perspective, work ethic, dedication to making Roanoke more equitable, and of course, quirky outfits, will be missed. In Djuna’s resignation letter, she stated “Due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, I...have had to make significant adjustments to accommodate the needs of my family. As a result, I am no longer in a position to meet the full obligation of my council duties…while also meeting my new obligation as a full-time stay-at-home mom and educator, along with the ongoing responsibilities of my private practice.” The expectations we put on women to have it all and do everything men do flawlessly, backwards and in heels, is unrealistic. Before the pandemic, she was already doing it all, and for that, she’s a feminist icon in Roanoke.
Replacing Djuna, a woman who notably co-chaired the first Roanoke Women’s March in 2017, with a male candidate, is bad optics for the city. When she was elected, Roanoke had the largest number of women serving on city council in its history. With respect to the male finalists vying for the seat, choosing one of them to fill Djuna’s unorthodox heels and trademark oversized coat would be antithetical to the values Roanoke City champions. Roanoke takes pride in its progressivism. On its website, ‘Our Mission’ reads “To foster a diverse, inclusive and innovative workforce…” Diversity and inclusiveness are what make Roanoke great.
Luckily, we can fill the empty seat with one of two highly-qualified candidates who happen to be women. City council has two first-rate, competent options in Vivian Sanchez-Jones and Beth Doughty. I’ve worked with Vivian several times; her commitment to equity, the Latinx community, and ensuring underserved communities have representation was clear. I don’t know Beth personally, but her public interview with council for this appointment was exceptional. She has a command of the issues. She’s competent, knowledgeable, and experienced. Either of these women would be an excellent addition to council and would honor Djuna’s tenure and legacy.
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