Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea reflects on his past 20 years on council

‘Bringing people together, that’s the highlight of my career.’

ROANOKE, Va. – After more than 20 years of public service, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea announced he will not seek re-election when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2024.

10 News sat down with Mayor Lea to discuss his career highlights and challenges.

“You just feel like it’s time,” said Lea.

Lea has spent nearly 25 years as a public servant. First on the Roanoke City School Board for five years.

Then, he was elected to Roanoke City Council in 2004.

“I’m so appreciative and thankful for the citizens that trusted me for that period of time,” said Lea.

From forming the Domestic Violence Task Force in 2005 to starting the Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League in 2015, Lea discussed his career highlights.

“I’m proud of that because I think it made a difference,” said Lea of his basketball league.

Lea said his greatest accomplishment is fostering partnerships with surrounding governments and communities to tackle problems and promote regional growth and economic development.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been involved in,” said Lea. “Bringing people together, that’s the highlight of my career.”

Now 71 years old, Lea says he feels the city is in a good place for him to take a step back.

“I think it’s time to sort of pull away and enjoy life with my grandkids,” said Lea. “Nothing lasts forever. And if there was a time where I need to hand the reigns over or pass the baton, it’s now.”

Though his time on council came with its controversies and challenges, including a rise in gun violence and a pandemic.

Friday night on 10 News at 6 p.m., hear from Lea about those hurdles and his plan for his last year in office.

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