Citing his mother's health as the cause, Virginia House of Delegates member Onzlee Ware announced today that he would not be sworn in for the next General Assembly, upcoming on January 8.
Ware's announcement leaves open a seat for the 11th District which represents Roanoke City.
City Councilman Court Rosen has already announced plans to run for the vacant seat.
Former Democratic Congressional Candidate Sam Rasoul also announced via e-mail on Thursday afternoon, that he would seek Ware's seat as well.
Ware said the decision was not easy, but his mother's recent move into a nursing home prompted months of thought that lead to today's decision. Ware said "my mother and my constituents are too important to receive anything less than my undivided attention."
Ware did not rule out future involvement in politics at the local or state levels. In fact, he looks "forward to serving the people of this great state in any capacity that is asked of me in the future."
Rosen had this statement about Ware, and his decision to run:
"First, I want to thank Delegate Ware for his long service to Roanoke. I wish his mother the best of health and him the best in his future endeavors.
I am running for the vacancy created by Delegate Ware's resignation. Having served as a member of City Council, most recently as Vice Mayor, I recognize the importance for the citizens of Roanoke of having a Delegate in Richmond that understands how local government works. It is important that this person knowledgeably represent the needs of our residents and businesses and who understands the operations and finances of local government and the impacts of state policies on those operations and finances. It's also critical that the next Delegate be able to work across party lines to do what's in the best interests of Roanoke and the entire region. I'm confident that I have an understanding of our community and neighborhoods and the needs that our businesses have as well as the often harmful impacts of state policy on education funding, local government mandates without funding and more.
I am confident that my experience and familiarity with the needs of businesses and residents in the entire city has prepared me for this important position."
Rasoul had this statement about Ware, and his decision to run:
"I want to thank Delegate Ware for his years of service to Roanoke and our community. He's worked tirelessly in the General Assembly standing up for Roanoke and working in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of the City, most recently his work to bring Amtrak to Roanoke. As your Delegate I will continue legislating using the example he set forth to make sure that our schools are fully funded, our children get the quality education they deserve, and Roanoke gets its fair share."
Voters will remember Rasoul most recently from his failed attempt to win the Democratic nomination for Roanoke City Mayor in 2012. Rasoul also lost to 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte in 2005.
Here is the complete text of Del. Ware's announcement:
After a decade as the Delegate of the 11th District, and recently being re-elected for another two more years, I have decided I will not be taking the oath for my sixth term on January 8.
This has not been an easy decision, the past three months I have weighed what would be best for my family and for the constituents of the 11th District. I have come to the conclusion that my mother and my constituents are too important to receive anything less than my undivided attention.
As many of you are aware, three years ago my mother moved to Roanoke to live with me because of her declining health. Until several months ago, I was able to balance practicing law, being a delegate, and serving as a caregiver to my mother. Unfortunately, her health has taken a turn for the worse, and I am no longer able to provide the care that she needs by myself. Therefore, she now lives in a nursing home. It was not easy to admit that I could no longer care for my mother on my own, as many of you know, we are very close. However, with the uncertainty that she will be making a full recovery, the best decision was to move her into a twenty-four hour care facility.
Family has always been my number one priority, and I need to be able to care for her in any way that I can. Growing up in a single parent home, my mother gave all that she had to make sure that I was cared for and succeeded in life. Simply put she deserves, and will receive, the same from me.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the constituents of the 11th District, and the entire Commonwealth during my tenure as a Virginia Delegate. It has truly been a blessing to represent you in the General Assembly, and the people I have met and the lessons I have learned along the way have changed my life forever. When I was elected into the House in 2003, little did I know that my constituents would give more to me than I could possible give to my constituents. I will certainly not forget the friends I have made along the way and please realize my success in Richmond would not have been possible without your tireless support.
Although I will not be getting sworn in on January 8, this doesn't meant this is the end of my career as a public servant to the City of Roanoke, or to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I look forward to serving the people of this great state in any capacity that is asked of me in the future. However, for now, I will be standing by my mother's side during these fragile times.