Democrat Roanoke City Council candidates speak at forum ahead of Tuesday’s primary election

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 12:12 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Councilman Joe Cobb, Councilwoman Vivian Sanchez-Jones, Terry McGuire and Peter Volosin gathered at the WFIR radio studio Thursday evening for the Roanoke City Council Democratic Primary Forum.

Early in the forum, an issue that is on many Roanoke residents’ minds came up: increased gun-related violence across the city and ways to address it.

“I think one of the things we should be doing is looking at providing more before- and after-school care programs. A lot of the violence is our youth, so we need to be providing more of those as a city for our working families,” said Volosin.

“I think creating outlets for young people to socialize, get together in a supervised safe place, have a meal, is really critical to breaking that cycle,” said McGuire

“We also need to look at what’s going on in the home. Sometimes these children don’t have parents at home, so that’s the part I told Joe (Cobb) I would like to help out,” said Sanchez-Jones.

“That’s spot on to increasing after-school (care) to increasing support of parents,” said Cobb.

The gun violence discussion progressed into the topic of ways to keep schools safe from potential threats.

“I think we have to really start to look at what are the best practices that are starting to evolve in other parts of the country and the world,” said Volosin.

“I’m in full support of SROs (Student Resource Officers). I have worked with these guys since 2004 and I know they are there to build relationships, support the staff and students,” said Sanchez-Jones.

“I’m really open to the conversation around SROs in schools and do we need to allocate more resources there. I think it’s also important that we talk about more funding for mental health professionals in schools,” said McGuire.

“I certainly support SROs. There are so many of these folks who are such good models for the kids and they are teaching them life lessons and life skills. But I agree with Terry and everybody too, that we need to increase the number of mental health workers in our schools,” said Cobb.

The candidates tended to agree with each other on many of the issues the Star City is facing. Each candidate also spoke about some main priorities if elected.

Cobb spoke about the Gun Violence Prevention Commission’s work and how he hopes to continue that in the coming years.

“The investment that our city is making in this work and feeling increasingly frustrated by the growth in violence. not just here but everywhere,” said Cobb.

“I would like to continue to be an advocate for our first responders and make sure that they have adequate pay,” said Sanchez-Jones.

“I worked for the World Bank in poverty reduction and economic development and I think those are two things that we really need in this city. We can’t do that without getting rid of the gun violence first,” said Volosin.

“Bringing my background in environmental policy, coalition building and sustainability,” said McGuire.

All the candidates voiced support for the Democrat party, no matter if they advance past Tuesday’s primary.

Voters will get out on Tuesday to decide which of the three Democrats will advance to the November ballot.

For the full forum and discussion, you can head to WFIR Radio’s Facebook page here. It can also be found on the Roanoke City Democratic Committee’s page here.

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