Labour’s Coun Alison Lowe, who represents Armley, steps down in May to concentrate on her work as chief executive of the Leeds-based mental health charity Touchstone.
Speaking tearfully to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Coun Lowe, 54, said: “I could just cry, I will miss it so much.
“I will miss Armley and I will miss my constituents so much, but I’ve got to have a life and I’m just so tired.
“It’s going to be a massive break and, just thinking about it, I’m in bits.”
Three decades of helping people who face poverty, housing problems, severe mental health issues and cutbacks has been hard and, partly because of commitments in her professional life, she believes it is time to bow out.
Coun Lowe decided to try politics after Conservative MP Keith Joseph represented Leeds North East until 1987, which jarred with her because of widespread poverty in the area.
Originally from Seacroft, Coun Lowe was elected to the Armley ward in 1990 aged 25 – and was the first black woman to sit on Leeds City Council.
But it was her age, not her race or gender, which caused tension with fellow members. “There was quite an old fashioned way of doing things and I hailed a new dawn,” she said.
After leaving Foundation, which helps ex-offenders, Coun Lowe took on her role in 2004 at Touchstone – a charity which has since won the National Diversity Awards among other major equal rights accolades.
She said: “It’s really important that people love themselves, whether you come from Armley or Alwoodley, whether you’ve got poor mental health or good mental health.”
A more in-depth interview with Coun Lowe about stepping down will be published next year.