Trish White-Boyd. Courtesy of Roanoke City Council.
Trish White-Boyd. Courtesy of Roanoke City Council.

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Roanoke City Council member Trish White-Boyd is the second Democrat seeking her party’s nomination to succeed state Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, who recently announced his retirement after 28 years in Richmond.

“I’m really excited about this, as a resident of the district for over 40 years, I am really committed to our community and I have passion for making a difference,” White-Boyd said in a phone interview Monday. 

As a member of the city council and as “the go-to community leader” for a long time, she said she has gained “a lot of invaluable perspectives” and has been working closely with community officials. “I’m eager to take my years of experience and put them to work for the people of this district.”

White-Boyd will face fellow Democrat Luke Priddy, a former Edwards aide, in what will likely be a primary in June. The district’s party leadership has yet to formally announce the format of its nomination contest. Priddy announced his intention to run on Friday by posting to Facebook a copy of a letter he sent to Edwards in which he said he hoped to “carry on your legacy.”

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face state Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, with whom Edwards was paired in redistricting, in the general election in November during which all of Virginia’s 140 legislative seats are on the ballot. 

Senate District 4. Courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court.
Senate District 4. Courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court.

The newly created 4th Senate District, which covers Roanoke, Salem, most of Roanoke County and part of Montgomery County, tilts Republican. The court-appointed mapmakers who drew the lines for the Virginia Supreme Court rated the district 52% to 54% Republican based on election returns from 2017. 

The Virginia Public Access Project says Democrat Tim Kaine took 51.4% of the vote in the district in the 2018 U.S. Senate race but Republican Glenn Youngkin took 54.7% in the 2021 governor’s race.

As a runner-up in a previous election, White-Boyd, 60, was appointed to Roanoke’s city council in January 2019, filling the seat of former councilman John Garland, who had stepped down that month, citing conflict of interest as a reason for his resignation.

In November 2020, White-Boyd was formally elected and served as the vice mayor until the end of last year. Before her stint on the city council, she was a business owner and community activist who worked on numerous Democratic campaigns on the local, state and national levels, including as a grassroots coordinator for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007. 

White-Boyd said Monday that she plans to formally announce her bid at noon March 24 at Roanoke’s Berglund Center.

“I’m excited because I have managed to get the support of most of the elected officials here in Roanoke, which is very rare in a primary,” she said, naming Mayor Sherman Lea, council members Peter Volosin and Vivian Sanchez-Jones, and city treasurer Evelyn Powers, among others. 

White-Boyd said that she isn’t worried about the slight Republican advantage in the recently redrawn district. 

“The majority of the votes come out of the city, and the last city council election was a Democratic sweep, so he has the uphill battle,” she said, referring to Suetterlein, the Republican incumbent. “We have a very big base here, and he will have the same challenges that I will have in other areas. But I am very confident in my connections in Salem city, and if it wasn’t tenable I wouldn’t have done it yet.”

White-Boyd said she is optimistic that her experience in civic service and her grassroots network will help her cross the finish line – first in June, then in the general election this fall. “It’ll be an expensive race, but we will get the support that we need,” she said.

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at or 804-822-1594.