Councilman John Saunders was elected to City Council in May of 2018 and he was officially sworn-in on July 2, 2018 by Salem Clerk of Court, Chance Crawford.
Raised in Salem, Saunders had the unique experience of attending his first three years of high school at historic Andrew Lewis before graduating from Salem High School in 1978 in the school’s first year of operation. During his formative years as a student, Saunders got his first look at the Salem Civic Center while playing basketball and ice hockey in the building. The arena would ultimately shape his entire employment career.
After graduating from Roanoke College in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration, Saunders was hired as the assistant director of the Civic Center, but his employment at the facility actually started much earlier. At the age of 12, he worked as a part-time laborer and skate guard at the building, and while in college, he moonlighted as the arena’s night watchman.
From 1983 through 2016, Saunders was instrumental in both the expansion of facilities and the creation of events at the Taliaferro Complex. Salem Stadium and Salem Memorial Ballpark were built during his tenure and he helped establish and secure a number of unique entertainment events for the valley.
The Salem Fair, NCAA National Tournaments, Virginia High School League Championships, and the Blue Ridge Music Festival are just a few of the attractions Saunders and his mentor, Carey Harveycutter, brought to Salem.
Saunders, who also served as the city’s director of civic facilities for 20 months before retiring in February of 2016, is a founding member of the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame, a former member of the Glenvar Rotary Club and a member of a number of national organizations, including the Country Music Association.
Saunders, who is an avid sports fan, resides in Salem with his teenage daughter, Heather.