A surprise decision
Trish White-Boyd, a member of the Roanoke City Council, has announced that she will not seek reelection in the upcoming May 2024 municipal elections. She made the announcement on Friday, December 31, 2023, in a press release that thanked her supporters and highlighted her accomplishments during her tenure.
White-Boyd, who represents the Northwest District, was first appointed to the council in January 2019, after former councilman John Garland resigned due to a conflict of interest. She was elected to a full four-year term in May 2020, and served as the vice mayor until the end of 2021.
She said that her decision to step down was motivated by personal and professional reasons, and that she wanted to spend more time with her family and focus on her career as a social worker and community leader.
“I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Roanoke and working with my colleagues on the council, but I feel that it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” she said in the press release. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together, especially in the areas of affordable housing, public safety, economic development, and racial equity.”
A legacy of service
White-Boyd, who is 60 years old, has been a longtime advocate for the Northwest District, which is one of the most diverse and economically challenged areas of the city. She has been involved in various community organizations, such as the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization, the Roanoke Valley Branch of the NAACP, the Roanoke Community Garden Association, and the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
She has also been instrumental in securing funding and support for several projects and initiatives that benefit the district, such as the Melrose Library, the Melrose-Orange Target Area, the Melrose Rugby Neighborhood Plan, and the Northwest Child Development Center.
She said that one of her proudest achievements was the creation of the Roanoke Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board, which she chaired until November 2021. The board, which was established in 2019, is tasked with advising the council on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
“I believe that Roanoke is a city of opportunity for everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or income level,” she said. “The Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board is a way to ensure that all voices are heard and respected, and that we address the systemic barriers that prevent some people from reaching their full potential.”
A future in politics?
White-Boyd’s announcement comes as a surprise to many, as she was widely seen as a rising star in the local Democratic Party. In March 2023, she announced her candidacy for the state Senate, seeking to replace longtime Sen. John Edwards, who retired after 28 years in office.
She faced Luke Priddy, a former Edwards aide, in the Democratic primary, which she lost by a narrow margin. She then endorsed Priddy, who went on to lose the general election to Republican Sen. David Suetterlein, who was paired with Edwards in the redistricting process.
White-Boyd said that she has not ruled out the possibility of running for another office in the future, but that she has no immediate plans to do so.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Roanoke, and I will always be involved in the issues that matter to me and my community,” she said. “But for now, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, especially my grandchildren, and continuing my work as a social worker and community leader.”
She also said that she will remain on the council until her term expires in June 2024, and that she will support whoever succeeds her in the Northwest District.
“I hope that whoever takes my place will have the same passion and commitment that I have for this district and this city,” she said. “I will do everything I can to help them transition and continue the work that we have started.