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Roanoke Valley Democratic Women Make Fundraising An Art

Councilman Bill Bestpitch talks with Alison Baird, Sen. Edwards aide.

by Valerie Garner

While the officials were hashing out redistricting in Richmond Thursday the Roanoke Valley Democratic Women were putting on a feast. It was the 13th year for their annual Wine and Cheese Democratic fundraising event at the Ramada Inn on Franklin Road.

The event almost didn’t happen. In January, the RVDW was fined $1500 for not registering as a PAC. On January 31, before the Virginia State Board of Elections, their fine was reduced to $200 after they registered.

This threw them into a tailspin for a while with thoughts of disbanding. After assurances from Democratic leaders that the paper work for PAC status was minimal the RVDW charged on.

“Who has more fun than the Democratic women … certainly not the Republicans,” said Mayor David Bowers.

Speakers were sparse since Senator John Edwards and Delegate Onzlee Ware were in Richmond. Mayor Bowers filled the void and honored Margaurite Garman, 90 who has been an outspoken Democrat all her life. He thanked her for “her loyalty, her honesty, her hard work and cheerfulness.”

Garman kept throwing “zingers” at Bowers and at one point he offered her the podium in jest. He said, “Speaking to you folks is like speaking to the Knights of Columbus.”

Bowers named off the Mayors Garman had witnessed through the years, starting with Wick Anderson and Murray Stoller up to present day. She rejoiced in victory and in defeat she said, “We’ll get them next time.”

He recalled being a teen Democrat meeting Garman. Interrupting Bowers again Garman snipped, “I remember when you had just graduated high school.”

Council members Bill Bestpitch, Court Rosen, County and City Treasurers and Commonwealth Attorney and Roanoke City Chair Don Caldwell were there. Roanoke County sheriff Mike Winston who is up for reelection attended. The Roanoke County Democratic Chair, Brian Lang, was tending bar. When one attendee referred to a drink as “booze,” Lang quickly corrected them saying, “It is the wine of Democratic sophistication.”

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