Citing his mother's health as the cause, Virginia House of Delegates member Onzlee Ware announced Thursday that he would not be sworn in for the next General Assembly on Jan. 8.
Ware's announcement leaves open a seat for the 11th District, which represents Roanoke City.
City Councilman Court Rosen has already announced plans to run for the vacant seat.
Former Democratic Congressional candidate Sam Rasoul also announced via e-mail on Thursday afternoon that he would seek Ware's seat.
Ware said the decision was not easy, but his mother's recent move into a nursing home prompted months of thought that lead to today's decision.
"My mother and my constituents are too important to receive anything less than my undivided attention," Ware said.
Ware did not rule out future involvement in politics at the local or state levels. In fact, he said he looks forward to "serving the people of this great state in any capacity that is asked of me in the future."
Rosen had this statement about Ware, and his decision to run:
"First, I want to thank Delegate Ware for his long service to Roanoke. I wish his mother the best of health and him the best in his future endeavors.
I am running for the vacancy created by Delegate Ware's resignation. Having served as a member of City Council, most recently as Vice Mayor, I recognize the importance for the citizens of Roanoke of having a Delegate in Richmond that understands how local government works. It is important that this person knowledgeably represent the needs of our residents and businesses and who understands the operations and finances of local government and the impacts of state policies on those operations and finances. It's also critical that the next Delegate be able to work across party lines to do what's in the best interests of Roanoke and the entire region. I'm confident that I have an understanding of our community and neighborhoods and the needs that our businesses have as well as the often harmful impacts of state policy on education funding, local government mandates without funding and more.
I am confident that my experience and familiarity with the needs of businesses and residents in the entire city has prepared me for this important position."
Rasoul had this statement about Ware, and his decision to run:
"I want to thank Delegate Ware for his years of service to Roanoke and our community. He's worked tirelessly in the General Assembly standing up for Roanoke and working in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of the City, most recently his work to bring Amtrak to Roanoke. As your Delegate I will continue legislating using the example he set forth to make sure that our schools are fully funded, our children get the quality education they deserve, and Roanoke gets its fair share."
Voters will remember Rasoul most recently from his failed attempt to win the Democratic nomination for Roanoke City Mayor in 2012. Rasoul also lost to 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte in 2005.