Comparing Candidates: 5th District’s S. Lee Shewmake

5th District Geography
Richmond’s 5th District includes areas north and south of the James River. In the north, the district is bounded by Floyd Avenue west of North Shields Avenue and east of North Laurel Street. East of North Shields to Rothesay Road, the district is bounded by Ellwood Avenue. The 5th District is bounded in the south mainly by Hull Street. In the east, it is mostly bounded by South Belvidere Street, which turns into Cowardin Avenue in the south after it crosses the Robert E. Lee Bridge. The district includes much of the southern portion of VCU’s Monroe Park Campus, including the Gladding Residence Center dorms and Cary and Belvidere student housing. It includes Oregon Hill, Carytown and southern portions of the Fan.

Photo courtesy of Lee Shewmake


Age: 47
Political Affiliation: Independent
Political Experience: Ran unsucessfully for the 5th District seat in 2008
Current Employment: Retired

Liz Butterfield
Assistant News Editor

Lee Shewmake first ran for the 5th District City Council seat four years ago against incumbent Marty Jewell. She’s back again this year with what she says is more experience, more passion and more knowledge of what the 5th District needs.

“The most important part of being a representative is being the voice of the people,” Shewmake said. “The representative is there to represent the people, not to represent their own ideas, not to represent special interest and I understand that clearly.”

Shewmake is the president of the Woodland Heights Civic Association with a business background at Patrick Auto Group and was an executive director at Grace House, a social services nonprofit organization. After losing in the 2008 election, she started her own business consulting firm called Shewmake Services and has been working to improve her name recognition within the community and outside of the 5th District. This year, Shewmake feels she is in a much better position to understand the needs of her district.

“It’s about wanting to see this city be all that it can be,” she said. “We’re talking about the same issues we were 20 years ago … it’s time to stop talking and get it done.”

Shewmake also wants to create two representative work-lists divided into what issues need to be taken care of immediately and what projects will improve the quality of life in the district over the next few years.

Shewmake believes that recent high-profile criminal activity in the area has become a serious issue for VCU students.

“Public safety … is something that is currently very important to (students),” said Shewmake, referencing the recent spike of crime around the university. Shewmake said she wants to bring more neighborhood police officers to patrol the streets regularly to deter crime. “If you have visible police, that will make them think twice,” said Shewmake.

Shewmake grew up in Richmond and later attended Florida Southern College and ultimately graduated from VCU with degrees in psychology and rehabilitation services. With a professional career in nonprofit and for-profit businesses in management and finance, Shewmake feels she is well prepared to represent the 5th District.

“Public service has been a constant in my life and is the reason I decided to pursue the job of council representative,” Shewmake said on her campaign website. She believes her experience in the business community and in social service would be a benefit the district and the city.

“My leadership in several community and city groups has created a positive working relationship … which will provide a strong base for improving the 5th District and by extension, our city,” the website says.


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