by Shawn Nowlin
Roanoke City’s newest council member is a familiar face. From July 1, 2008, to December 31, 2020, Anita Price served on Roanoke City Council. Two years ago, when asked why she was not seeking re-election, Price responded, “When I first joined the council, I wanted to use my platform to make a positive difference. While there were some stressful moments, at the end of the day, I accomplished what I set out to do. None of us are getting any younger. I want to spend the next chapter in my life making more memories with my family and close friends.”
Normally, local constituents vote for council members. However, after former Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. was found guilty of embezzlement and money crimes last month, he resigned from his position, creating a situation in which his colleagues had to vote on his replacement. Jeffery isn’t the first Roanoke council member to resign after being found guilty of a crime; he’s just the latest.
What started as a list of 16 candidates vying to fill the vacated position eventually got dwindled down to six individuals: Price, Kiesha Preston, Raekwon Moore, Kevin Berry, Suzanna Osborne, and Luke Priddy.
After an in-person interview with each individual, the council came to a decision on April 18. Five council members – Mayor Sherman Lea (D), Vice Mayor Patricia White-Boyd (D), Stephanie Moon Reynolds (I), Vivian Sanchez-Jones (D), and Joe Cobb (D) – voted “yes” for Price. Bill Bestpitch (D) voted “present.” Despite Jeffrey’s term scheduled to last until Dec. 31, 2024, Price will only serve on council through the rest of this year.
Before becoming a politician, Price worked as a schoolteacher, guidance counselor, and administrator over a career that spanned nearly four decades. Many of the attributes she utilized to excel as an educator have, in her words, “been invaluable while serving on the council” – patience, the ability to take accountability, and the importance of gathering as much information as possible before making a definitive conclusion, among other things.
“Council is responsible for overseeing any and everything that has to do in making sure that the city runs smoothly,” Price, a lifelong Democrat, said. “From keeping the lights on in our school buildings to paying our first responders, there is so much that council does.”
There are many things that Price is passionate about and advocates for. She would be the first to say, however, that not every decision she makes will be popular with everyone. During Monday’s meeting, a concerned Roanoke woman spoke to the council about her fears about the recent rise in Roanoke shootings.
“She explained why she is often scared in her own home. In her neighborhood, there have been too many random shootings this year. Hearing her come forward and share her story with us was just chilling,” Price said. “No one should ever feel unsafe in their own home. We have made strides in many areas over the years, but we still have much more work to do, especially when it comes to community safety.”
Throughout her career as an educator, Price positively impacted the lives of thousands of students. As an elected official, she professed, “I hope that most people feel I’ve done the same as a council member.”