Roanoke mayor details his biggest decisions, hurdles, and accomplishments during 20-year tenure

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea said he’s ready to retire and has announced that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2024.

10 News is working for you to highlight some of the biggest decisions and hurdles Mayor Lea has had to face during his 20-year tenure working for the city.

After more than two decades of serving the city of Roanoke, Mayor Sherman Lea has seen his share of challenges and controversies, from the demolition of the 25,000-seat victory stadium in 2006 to enacting a youth curfew and the construction of a new bus station in Downtown Roanoke.

“Victory Stadium divided the city. It was almost a civil war,” Mayor Lea said. “Thats the challenge you have working on council. You have to have that vision. Everyone’s not going to have that.”

Lea saw the city through a global pandemic and the ongoing homelessness crisis.

“It’s an issue, but I tell you what, we’re not going to quit.”

[RELATED: Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea reflects on his past 20 years on council]

Lea admits the greatest challenge of his career has been addressing gun violence.

“It seemed like everything we tried to do, there was still violence, senseless killings.”

But he said the framework is in place now to curb crime.

“It’s not just a police problem, it’s a community problem. And the community is moving forward right now. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Lea said he’s proud of his accomplishments and is ready to get to work during his last 12 months in office.

“There are going to continue to be issues, but I think as a city, we’re approaching them in the right way,” Mayor Lea said. “I always want to be remembered as a council member and a mayor who cared about people, saw issues, and tried to resolve them ... tried to fix them as best we could.”

Lea said in his last year in office, he plans to continue work to combat gun violence and foster economic growth and revitalization.

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