Roanoke Delegate Onzlee Ware says he intends to step down from his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Ware, a Democrat, says he is stepping down because of his mother's failing health. Ware's decision to not take the oath of office in January will trigger a special election in the House of Delegates.
"Today, I regret to announce that I will not be getting sworn in for my sixth term to the Virginia House of Delegates," Ware wrote on Twitter.
Ware has served the 11th District for a decade. In a statement, Ware said his mother moved back to Roanoke three years ago to live with him. Ware was raised in a single-parent household.
"Until several months ago, I was able to balance practicing law, being a delegate, and serving as a caregiver to my mother," Ware wrote in a statement. "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.
"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."
Roanoke Vice Mayor Court Rosen tells WDBJ7's Chris Hurst that he plans to run for Ware's seat. Rosen, a Democrat, says he can work with both parties and can help bring the Roanoke Valley the funding it needs.
Sam Rasoul also announced Thursday that he will run for Ware's seat.
Governor McDonnell released the following statement about Ware's retirement:
“Over the past ten years, I’ve gotten to know Onzlee Ware very well. I know him as someone who always puts Virginia first. And I know him as a leader who will always tell you, directly and without nuance, just where he stands.
“Those two traits were on full display when Onzlee took the floor of the House of Delegates during the final debate on this year’s historic transportation bill. Onzlee rose to let the body know why he, a Democratic representative from Roanoke, was voting for this measure. He made it clear he didn’t love the bill. That’s the nature of any compromise. But he said he was voting for the legislation because, ‘I always tell people it’s easy to do nothing, because you don’t have to think, just say no.’ And he noted, ‘I intend on voting on this bill because in my opinion, it’s the right thing to do for all Virginians.’ And he did the same thing when he also took to the floor to support the creation of the Opportunity Educational Institution that will help turnaround failing schools in our Commonwealth. Onzlee always put policy ahead of party; he put results ahead of rhetoric. He strove to do the right thing for all Virginians. We’re all better for it.
“Onzlee has always sought out common ground in the service of our Commonwealth, and now our Commonwealth will greatly miss his service to our people. I know that personal reasons have made this decision necessary, and Maureen and I extend our thoughts and best wishes to Onzlee, his mother, and their family. I hope his involvement in the life of our Commonwealth will extend far beyond this day. Virginia needs more individuals like Onzlee Ware in public service.”