Councilman Lea Kicks Off Campaign

Sherman Lea

by Valerie Garner

It is campaign season in Roanoke City and for the moment the Democrats seem to have the upper hand with their “get-along” ticket of Democrats. The Claude Moore Education Complex at The Roanoke Higher Education Center, hosted incumbent Democrat Sherman Lea’s campaign kick off Wednesday evening.

The Democrats numbered over 100 with council members, school board and clergy attending. Lea is an elder at Garden of Prayer No 7. His pastor Bishop Shadrack Brown said, “Elder Lea is the greatest man I know … Roanoke has become much better because of the dream of our councilman.”

Councilwoman Anita Price spoke about how important it was to have a united ticket. Councilman Court Rosen said that this team “is getting things done.”

Rosen recounted when he and Lea had a heated exchange over a major issue when he first came on council. Rosen said afterward that they healed the rift and Lea told him that they were elected to get things done and not be political. “From that day on I think we worked as a wonderful partnership.”

Lea gave credit to his wife Clara; they have been married for 35 years. His two children, Sherman Lea, Jr. who served as MC, his daughter Erica Lea Rosser a teacher at William Byrd Middle School and his three grandchildren were all by his side.

“I served on council when there was bitterness … they wouldn’t speak to each other,” said Lea. Those were very difficult and dark days, he said. It is different now, though “some of us differ because our backgrounds are different.”

Lea recounted when Rosen called him with his “meals tax” increase idea for the schools. Lea said he asked him, “can we call it anything else but a tax?” Rosen talked him into it and they both agreed that they couldn’t let the schools lose teachers.

“It takes courage … we put our heads on the chopping block” said Lea.

Lea emphasized that, “if the school system is not where it should be” economic development won’t follow and people won’t come. He said that the Forest Park School re-purposing was not an easy decision. The school now adds to the graduation rate by rescuing students on the verge of dropping out.

Lea is responsible for the Western Virginia Education Classic football fundraiser that over a 10-year period has given 900 dropouts a chance to receive their GED or certificate.

Domestic violence has been another initiative he has championed. “A lot of things like these are under the radar,” he said. Public service is all about “making a difference in the community.” Lea said that council should be helping people with things like tax relief for seniors – “these are difficult economic times.”

“I have the energy … I love the city … this council is approachable,” said Lea.

The firehouse primary will be held on Saturday, February 4 at William Fleming High School between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Voter registrations will be checked. Expect to sign a slip of paper saying you will not vote for any candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee. The city does not incur any expenses for this type of primary nor are voters identified with the state board of elections as having voted in a Democratic primary. This is a city Democratic Party held primary.

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