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Statement from Kiesha Preston: In February of this year I made the decision to run for Roanoke City Council but In the process of seeking the Democratic nomination I have quickly discovered that while the process is nominally equal, it is also undeniably inequitable.

I strongly believe in foundational things we are taught about American democracy; specifically, that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

This democratic ideal should mean that anyone who feels qualified has a fair and equal opportunity to run for office, but with expensive filing fees, and a closed off nomination process that puts the fate of Roanoke City Council in the hands of the few, opposed to the many, it has become apparent that there are outdated systemic obstacles in place that currently create barriers for some candidates while favoring others. Toss in the added limitations that we’re all now experiencing as a result of a worldwide pandemic, and the flaws in the process are further underscored.

I pride myself on being someone who stands up for what I know to be right and my track record supports that. In the last year, I wrote the Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act, signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam on March 23, 2020. From this important work, I also briefed members of Congress on injustices that victims of domestic violence face.

Knowing the barriers that I would face trying to enter this primary and knowing in my heart that these barriers should not exist, I was confronted with a choice. I could accept the broken system offered by the primary process, or I could stand by my convictions and seek independent access to the ballot in what I believe is a more democratic way, in hopes of one day bringing down these barriers for future candidates.

This week, I chose to stand firmly with my belief in a democratic process by choosing not to participate in the Democratic primary and instead, I will be running as an independent candidate. By doing so, I will be removing one set of systemic barriers and facing a new set of challenges but I welcome the hard work required to embark on the road ahead, and I look forward to running a campaign on my mission to ensure that the voices of every individual in every community in Roanoke City are represented fairly as together we propel our great city towards continued growth and sustainability.