Cleaveland Leaves After One Term

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Bill Cleaveland

Bill Cleaveland

by Valerie Garner

Botetourt County’s first term Republican Delegate Bill Cleaveland, who represents Roanoke County and part of Roanoke City, will not seek reelection this year. He won election two years ago with 62% of the vote and a challenge from then Roanoke City Council member Gwen Mason.

With a heavy workload as an attorney and family care demands, he says he is not able to give the time to his constituents that they deserve. His hard work at the 2011 session of the General Assembly resulted in a successful bill to allow Roanoke City Schools to open prior to Labor Day.

At a legislative meeting with Roanoke City council and the school board in November 2010 Cleaveland said he had a workaround for RCPS that he would take to the 2011 session of the General Assembly. Cleaveland was new to the legislature but said he thought that he could engineer a way to usher in a bill that would add an exemption fitting Roanoke City only.

The naysayers kept telling him they had tried without success in previous sessions and the tourism lobby was just too strong. He bucked heavy hitter Democrat Senator Dick Saslaw who was solidly funded by the tourism lobby.

Cleaveland even lobbied Governor Bob McDonnell who wanted $3.6 million of additional funding to promote tourism in the state. He didn’t give up though. His argument was convincing and the Governor signed Cleaveland’s bill.

Delegate Greg Habeeb of Salem said that, “Bill always put people before politics.”

Governor Bob McDonnell called him “a force for good as a leader in the Roanoke community and in his time representing the 17th District of the House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assembly. As he departs the House of Delegates, the role he played in the passage of important transportation, public safety and education legislation will continue to be felt throughout the Commonwealth for years to come.”