Commentary: Council Elections

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In the 2/5/10 edition of “The Roanoke Times,” a story by Mason Adams ran accusing me of working with/for Valerie Garner in the upcoming Roanoke City Council Democratic Primary and the upcoming Roanoke City Council Elections. Roanoke City Councilman David Trinkle and Democratic candidates Bill Bestpitch and Ray Ferris made several claims about my role in Valerie Garner’s campaign. These charges are nothing but lies.

I work for no candidate. In fact, given my position in the Roanoke, Va. Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the law clearly says that if I were to work for any political candidate, I would be putting the Roanoke SCLC’s tax exempt status in jeopardy. Ferris, an attorney, should know this.

Yes, I am supporting Ms. Garner in the upcoming Roanoke City Council elections. That is my right as an American. I do not support Ferris because of his support of racist Roanoke Neo-Nazi Bill White. Ferris supports White’s right to call Black people and others vile and disgusting names. Ferris supports White’s right to talk about killing Black people and others, including President Obama. Why would I support this? I cannot support this.

Bestpitch was a failure during his term on Roanoke City Council once before. Why would I vote for him again? As for Councilman Trinkle, his re-election is safe. Although I thought Trinkle was better than this cheap political theater.

Through the years, I have been an outspoken advocate for the working people of this city, especially those people who live in Northwest and Southeast Roanoke. I have given my opinion on my “The Artis Blog” on who I thought the best candidate would be for these areas of the city. I have given my opinion on “The SCLC Radio Show” on which candidates I thought would be best for these sections of the city. However, in all of the years I have been involved with the Roanoke SCLC, I have never worked for a candidate as these three men claim.

Old folks used to say, “When you tell a lie, tell a good lie.” Well, these three men have told a whopper of a lie. These men owe me and Valerie Garner an apology.

-Jeff Artis, SCLC Chairman