Renée Ferris Turk arrived at City Hall on July 1, 2020, to be officially sworn in as a first-year member of Salem City Council. By the time she exited Council Chambers that day, she had made local government history.
Turk was voted the first female mayor in the 52-year history of Salem, as she hit the ground running like no other elected official since Salem became an independent city in 1968. She is the first female to serve as a mayor of either Salem, Roanoke City, or Vinton.
But history is nothing new to the Turk family. Her husband David taught history and government at Salem High School for three decades and he also made some history of his own coaching volleyball and lacrosse for 22 years each.
All three of their children are products of Salem City Schools. Michael is the Director of Finance for Capital One and part-owner of Olde Salem Brewing. Daniel is a realtor here in Salem for Re-Max and Rachel is a Dr. and Clinical Psychologist in the Athletic Department at the University of Richmond.
Mayor Turk graduated from Roanoke College in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, and education. She has taught business classes at Salem High School, was the general sales manager at Saturn of Roanoke Valley, and an account executive for Q99. She retired from Wheeler Broadcasting in 2014.