One of the District of Columbia’s top political operatives and most respected leaders in Ward 8 has signed on to become a top aide to one of the D.C. Council’s newest members.

D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) has hired his longtime mentor and community activist Wanda Lockridge to serve as his chief of staff. White, who was sworn in as his ward’s representative on Jan. 2, said that Lockridge is the right person for the job.

Ward 8 stalwart Wanda Lockridge is a former chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. (AFRO File Photo)

“I know Wanda has worked as the chief of staff under former council member Arrington Dixon,” White told the AFRO. “I know she is dedicated to Ward 8. I have seen her in the community and she has a strong sense of it. I trust her.”

Lockridge is the widow of William O. Lockridge, who served on the D.C. State Board of Education member and was active in the political and civic life of Ward 8 and the city until his death on Jan. 12, 2011. Lockridge herself has a serious resume, being elected at the age of 18 as an advisory neighborhood commissioner, served a term in the early 2000s as the chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, worked for the Leon Sullivan Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and in the District of Columbia government and is serving as the Ward 8 committeewoman on the Democratic State Committee and co-chaired three of the Ward 8 Democrats’ biennial conventions.

Lockridge is also the founder and chair of the William O. Lockridge Community Foundation that assists students with financial assistance when needed as well as educational programming and opportunities and mentoring. The foundation was set up shortly after William Lockridge’s death.

Lockridge, who grew up in Ward 8, is proud of where she’s from.

“I am a D.C. girl and a Ward 8 girl,” Lockridge told the AFRO with a smile. “I graduated from Ballou High School and got my bachelor’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia and an MBA with honors from Southeastern University. I love Ward 8 and I am Ward 8.”

As White’s chief of staff, she will be the primary manager of his council operations. That entails making sure that staff members fulfill their responsibility to the council member and the Ward 8 constituency.

Plus, she serves as the principal adviser to White on legislative and political matters. The latter responsibility should be no problem for Lockridge.

“I am not a stranger to the John A. Wilson Building,” she said. “I know most of the other council members’ chiefs of staff and have relationships with them. Plus, as the former chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, I know all of the council members well and have worked with them in the past.”

Lockridge said that she is passionate about working for White even though she understands that there will be sacrifices.

“I decided to work with council member White because I know his passion to serve the people,” she said. “I took this job knowing there would be long hours. This is not a 9-5 job. Sometimes when I get home I tell myself I won’t open my laptop but I end up doing it anyway. I am someone who will work until the job gets done.”

Lockridge has had strong ties to White for years. White was a protege of William Lockridge. It was Lockridge who supported White to replace her husband on the D.C. State Board of Education as the Ward 8 representative.

White won the special election with the support of Lockridge and D.C. Council member Marion Barry on April 26 of that year and served in that capacity until April 2014. White was hired by the District government in a community-based, high-level position that forced him to give up his seat that was won by Tierra Jolly on July 15, 2014.

When Barry died in November of 2014, White contested for the Ward 8 seat but was edged out by LaRuby May in a special election that was held on April 28, 2015.

On July 14, 2016, White defeated May in her bid to keep her seat in the Democratic Party primary and he faced no opposition in the Nov. 8 general election. Throughout his political year, Lockridge was White’s strongest supporter, making contacts and raising money for him.

“She has relationships in the ward and throughout the city,” Former D.C. Council member Sandy Allen, who represented Ward 8 from 1996-2005  told the AFRO. “She has held various positions throughout the years and she understands how to run a council member’s office and work with various types of people in all parts of the city. She has great insight, a passion for young people and leadership abilities.”