US Senate Unanimous: Change Name of Federal Building

Today, the US Senate unanimously passed Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine’s legislation to rename Roanoke’s federal building the “Reuben E. Lawson Federal Building” in honor of the life and legacy of civil rights lawyer Reuben Lawson. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives where Rep. Ben Cline’s support is important.

Full story here: Senate unanimously votes to rename Roanoke federal building after civil rights lawyer (

Please contact Rep. Ben Cline. Everything you need has been provided here:

Let’s help get this across the finish line.

We’re ALMOST there: Reuben E. Lawson Federal Building

Thank you to all who have supported the effort to rename the federal courthouse in Roanoke after the late civil rights attorney Reuben E. Lawson.

In December, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner introduced the legislation to make the change but support from Rep. Ben Cline, in whose district the courthouse is located, is imperative. And so…

Simply download, print, sign (include your address) and mail the following letter to Rep. Ben. Cline, 10 Franklin Rd. SE, Suite 510, Roanoke, VA 24011.

And a very special thank you to Reverend Edward Burton and John Fishwick for their tireless work on this effort.

Sandra Ryals, VP – Political Affairs

More on Reuben Lawson and the Federal Building Name Change

Sheriff Antonio Hash has a heart for service

RVDW’s January meeting reminded us of the importance of engaging with our elected local leaders. Capturing the enthusiasm and heart for service guest speaker Roanoke City Sheriff Antonio Hash has for his job, his city, its residents, and his staff will likely prove impossible.

RVDW highly recommends organizations invite Sheriff Hash to speak to learn about his department, his vision, and to enjoy his contagious positivity. (“You’re welcome!” in advance for that recommendation.)

City Sheriff is a Constitutional Office. In 2021, Antonio Hash, then a 13-year veteran of the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Department, proudly ran and won election as a Democrat. While he will run for re-election as a Democrat in 2025, Hash reminded his audience that his sworn duty, like all public servants, is to the Constitution (State of Virginia and US), his department, his city, and to all the citizens of Roanoke City.

Hash eagerly explained the Sheriff Department’s mission, values, structural organization, and its relationship to other agencies.

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2024 Va GA Session Update 2 – 1/19/2024

Greetings with a CALL TO ACTION from your Political Affairs Committee!

The brand-new Virginia General Assembly office building was open for business on Monday, MLK Day. Undeterred by wintry weather, 22 Roanoke and New River Valley residents, including two minors and three members of the RVDW Political Affairs Committee, embarked on an important adventure, seeking meetings and facetime with State Senators and Delegates.

Happiness is . . .
experiencing citizen lobbying!

Gun violence prevention was the focus of the day, as we followed guidance from Groceries Not Guns founder and RVDW member Catherine Koebel. Bills to watch this session include Child Access Prevention Laws, Funding for Gun Violence Prevention and Gun Industry Accountability, Permit to Purchase Handgun Laws, and an Assault Weapons Ban.

We left home at 9:30am and travelled three hours in the snow, over Afton Mountain, lunching along the way, and arriving in Richmond around 1pm.

After clearing security in all our layers, hats, mittens, and scarves, we headed up to Sen. David Sutterlein’s office. Sen. Sutterlein’s (new) district includes the City of Roanoke. These constituents’ voices brought the perspective of a city traumatized by gun violence – personally and as a community. Vice Mayor Joe Cobb and Roanoke City Councilmember Luke Priddy, who is a consultant for Jennifer Boysko in Richmond this session, were present for the meeting. We spent almost an hour seeking common ground on the issue of safe storage and child access legislation.

At 2pm we joined voices and hearts with other gun violence prevention activists from across the state at the 32nd Annual MLK Day Vigil at the nearby bell tower. This year’s event was historic in its own right as we heard remarks from Del. Don Scott Jr., our state’s first Black speaker of the House of Delegates.

Following the vigil, our group returned to the General Assembly building to meet with our respective Delegates, Joe McNamara and Sam Rasoul. office where we were welcomed warmly.

Our delegation headed back to the bus at 4:20pm and safely returned to a snow-covered Roanoke five hours later. Shout out to Abbott Bus Lines for their excellent service.

Best wishes, warmest regards,

Sandra Whitley Ryals, VP Political Affairs
Political Affairs Committee Members: Barbara Andes, Becky Clark, Jessica Hilbish and Catherine Koebel


CALL. CALL. CALL. As often as you can. Every day is not too often! Put your delegate and your state senator on speed dial! In 2023, Johns Hopkins University research showed 81% of Americans support Child Access Prevention laws, including 58% of Republicans. Keep that in mind when you call.

Del. Sam Rasoul (D)804.698.1038Script: “Please be a vocal supporter on social media and in your legislative updates of Child Access Prevention programs and laws.”
Del. Joe McNamara (R)804.698.1040Script: “Please vote for Child Access Prevention legislation.”
Sen. David Sutterlein (R)804.698.7504Script: “Please vote for Child Access Prevention legislation.”

Full VA Senate Member List
Full VA Delegates List

2024 Va GA Session Update 1 – 1/12/2024

Greetings from your Political Affairs Committee!

The 2024 Virginia General Assembly convened Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Happiness is . . .
having Democrats in the majority in the Senate and the House of Delegates,
thanks to your votes in November!

Watch for lots of grandstanding and speechmaking, as many new legislators take office, and our Republican governor tries to rebuke democratic advances.

Bills to watch will be highlighted here in weekly updates, and efforts will be made to help ignite action as events warrant. Click for a look at some key measures that will come before the legislature in the upcoming 60-day session, including:

• reproductive rights
• mental health
• gun violence prevention
• voting rights
• raising the minimum wage

Sandra Whitley Ryals, VP
Committee Members: Barbara Andes, Becky Clark, Jessica Hilbish and Catherine Koebel Stromberg

Dems After Dark: RVDW Holiday Mingle & Food Drive

Update: See Event Photos Here!

Roanoke Valley Democratic Women (RVDW) invites everyone to a celebratory “Dems After Dark” on Thursday, December 7th from 5:00pm-7:00pm at Barrel Chest Wine & Beer. In this post-election, early holiday season of 2023, we’ll gather to celebrate winning back the House of Delegates and maintaining control of the Virginia Senate. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided. A cash bar will be available.

In the spirit of giving, we are sponsoring a food drive during the event. Donations of non-perishable food items (please, no glass) will benefit Feeding Southwest Virginia. Founded in 1981, Feeding Southwest Virginia’s mission “is to nourish neighbors, engage community partners, and develop solutions to address food insecurity.” Most needed items include:

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Freedom to Read: Key Take-Aways

by Barbara Andes, VP Communications

“It was the foremost topic of discussion” at the state’s recent professional conference for librarians [Virginia Library Association] is how Sara Sprague describes book banning and book censorship. Sprague, October RVDW guest speaker, a Roanoke-based attorney, librarian, and consultant, had much to share in her “Freedom to Read: How to Resist Book Bans in Your Community” presentation on Friday, October 27. Her unique perspective, sharpened by the intersection of her professional expertise in law and librarianship, gave attendees a lot to consider and ways to resist the trend toward censorship.

“Book banning is ‘the practice of removing or restricting access to books that are deemed objectionable or inappropriate by some individuals or groups’,” explained Sprague. This can include removing books from school or public libraries, prohibiting books from being used in classrooms or curricula, requiring parental consent or notification for books that contain certain content and even filing lawsuits or complaints against authors, publishers, librarians, or teachers who promote or distribute books. “It’s kind of a catch-all term that can be a little murky, but in all cases is a restriction on freedom to read. When government is the one doing the directing, we get into censorship issues that potentially violate the first amendment.”

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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: A Powerful, Heartfelt, and Hope-filled Presentation

RVDW’s summer meeting hiatus came to an end on Friday when members gathered to focus on September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. With compassion and clarity, our guest speakers led attendees through sometimes difficult facts while encouraging discussion about the prevalence of and increase in suicide in our daily lives. There was opportunity for questions and answers and powerful personal reflection.

Ms. Scales, Ms. Johnson, and Ms. Goodman all expressed hopefulness as they see the stigma around discussing suicide receding. In this environment, and beyond September, we can all take action to make a difference and help prevent and reduce suicide:

  • Educate your friends, families, coworkers.
  • Mobilize support in your community, churches, civic groups, etc.
  • Pay attention to legislation and funding (local, state, national).

The following presentation file was prepared for RVDW and has been shared by Julia Scales. Note: This presentation is meant to be informative, not diagnostic.

Some of the resources referenced in the above presentation include:
Homepage | Zero Suicide (
SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – Call. Text. Chat. (
Suicide Prevention Resource for Action | Suicide | CDC

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Meet Author Margaret Edds, “What the Eyes Can’t See”

Monday, September 11, 2023
Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders, 1176 Roanoke Rd., Daleville
Host: Democratic Committee of Botetourt County
6:30pm: DCBC Business Meeting
7:00pm: Speaker Margaret Edds

The Democratic Commitee of Botetourt County invites all to hear guest speaker Margaret Edds, former journalist and author, and to discuss her latest work, “What the Eyes Can’t See: Ralph Northam, Black Resolve, and a Racial Reckoning.”

The book’s publisher, University of South Carolina Press, summarizes the work as follows: “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s ‘blackface scandal’ could have destroyed any politician. The photo of Governor Northam purportedly in blackface created a firestorm not only locally but also in every political sphere. What the Eyes Can’t See details why Northam’s career did not end with the scandal, and how it made him a better governor—and a better citizen.”

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Let’s get Lily Franklin Elected to the House of Delegates

Summer is quickly coming to an end, but there is much going on for candidates! We want to be sure you know about upcoming opportunities to engage in support of Democratic candidate Lily Franklin for House of Delegates District 41. Hers is a HIGHLY competitive race and could be key to flipping the HOD back to blue! As Virginia’s Election Day 2023 is about 80 days away, there’s no time like the present to get involved!

Here are just a few of the many events on Lily’s busy calendar:

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