Ed. note — The Independent News asked candidates for the Virginia Beach City Council Rose Hall District seat on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to answer questions about issues in the city and, specifically, the city’s southern communities. This appeared in print on Friday, Oct. 28. Responses to question have not been edited. The following responses appear in alphabetical order by author’s last name.
Robert K. Dean
Neighborhood: 36-year resident of Waters Edge in the Green Run community
Age on Nov. 8: 75
Occupation: Retired retail executive
Political party affiliation, if any: Libertarian
Key endorsements: Virginia Senator Bill DeSteph; Virginia Beach City Councilman John Moss; former Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Patricia West currently serving as Associate Dean at Regent University Law School.
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Having served on Council from 1992-96, I am fully vested in how the Council and City operates. I have not strayed from the issues, having worked extensively with former Council member Senator Bill DeSteph, and Councilman John Moss, on the annual budgets and other major projects the city is considering.
Having a business management career, I bring to the office a philosophy of providing excellent customer service to our residents, a fiscal conservative mindset on how tax dollars are spent, and an understanding and commitment to the role of government and its core responsibilities.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it if elected? Job creation is the biggest challenge for not only our city, but state and nation. I will be submitting the following resolutions for council’s consideration:
- Eliminate the Business Professional Occupation License tax (BPOL) over the next four years.
- Eliminate the Machinery and Tool Tax immediately.
- Streamline the process for opening a business and set a target date of no more than one business week.
- Reduce the prepared 11.5 percent meal tax. It is tied third highest in the nation. Reduce it so that it is not higher than New York City.
- Eliminate immediately all public/private partnerships. The government should not be choosing who will succeed, and who will not.
- Outsource City operations when and where possible but only if it is financially feasible. Transition into this by staffing attrition if proven to be viable.
Virginia Beach is a city that can no longer rely on new development as it once did. How should the city promote future redevelopment? Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? Development or redevelopment is best relegated to the private sector. Changes to our zoning requirement should be flexible enough for developers to be able to transform areas into mixed-use redevelopment through financial incentives and agreements between property owners and the developers, not the City. The City’s role would be to insure the project fits within the zoning requirements and if it doesn’t, refer it to the Board of Zoning Appeals for further review. In all cases, immediate neighborhoods must be brought in for a public review of the proposals. In no aspect should the government be in competition with the private sector choosing who will succeed, and who will not.
How can the city better promote industries that capitalize upon our veteran population? Again, the private sector is best positioned to address this opportunity of utilizing the amazing talents of our military. The military has a transition program for military personnel which includes even mundane things such as teaching them how to dress professionally. Job fairs can be orchestrated by the various sectors in need of the the talents our military men and woman. Government has no experience in understanding the needs of the private sector and translating those needs into actual jobs. Again, jobs are created by entrepreneurs, not government.
Do you support the agricultural reserve program meant to ensure farmland can remain productive in rural areas of Virginia Beach? Please explain why. The Agricultural Reserve Program (ARP) was intended to sidetrack hard decisions by elected council members when it came to rezoning property from agriculture to residential, commercial or industrial. The ARP does not require the landowner to actually plant crops on the property. Council has no obligation to rezone land zoned agriculture, but political will forced past councils into paying landowners not to submit rezoning applications.
Should the city maintain its “green line”? Please explain your position. The so-called “green line,” that line of demarcation separating development with adequate infrastructure, i.e., roads, water, sewage, schools and public safety services provided in the northern parts of our city, versus the southern, or rural sections. With the massive backlog of infrastructure needs in the developed portion of the city, it would be decades before any push to the south could ever be considered.
Should the city extend Nimmo Parkway to Sandbridge? Please explain. Phase VII of the project is currently in its design phase with construction to begin in 2023. The $19.5 million project is but one of a list of backlog road projects totaling over a half-billion dollars. This extension is designed to alleviate a safety issue on this highly used rural roadway.
Do you support the extension of light rail from Newtown Station to Town Center? Please explain. No. Along with Councilman John Moss, I was part of a study team that thoroughly digested the $6.6 million Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which clearly showed that the light rail project would not reduce traffic congestion, would not stimulate economic economic, and would not lend itself to improving the environment. No matter the cost, it is a waste of precious transportation dollars earmarked for a project that simply is of no use and will not perform as promoted.
The abysmal ridership of 1,125 daily riders in the year 2034 further exemplifies and justifies the no-build position City Council should take.
Neighborhood: Salem Woods
Age on Nov. 8: 46
Occupation: Small Business Owner, Marketing Agency
Political party affiliation, if any: Republican
Key endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police, Virginia Beach Education Association, Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Probably my best qualification for politics is I am not a career politician. I own a small business and I have spent most of my career helping non-profit organizations help people in need. I am service- oriented, and that’s how I approach serving on City Council. I want to help people, whether it’s recovering from a catastrophe, starting a small business, finding a job or solving neighborhood issues. I like to solve problems and get things done. I don’t make speeches or call press conferences to put a spotlight on myself. I’m focused on getting results.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it if elected? Our biggest concern is maintaining and improving the quality of life in Virginia Beach. With federal defense spending slowing, we need to attract and grow good paying jobs to fill that void. Too many of our young people leave the area to find jobs that earn enough to provide for a family. As I have said since I was first elected two years ago, we have stormwater drainage issues that we must confront and I believe we are moving ahead to solve them. We are the safest city of our size in the nation with some of the best schools anywhere. We have a lot to offer potential employers in various fields like biomedical, cybersecurity and others. These are highly competitive industries and we have to work to bring them to Virginia Beach. With my background, I am best suited to meet this challenge.
Virginia Beach is a city that can no longer rely on new development as it once did. How should the city promote future redevelopment? Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? The Strategic Growth Areas are where the city wants future development to be focused. These are areas that are mostly along established transportation corridors near the interstate highways. Communities have been engaged in creating these plans for years and we have been encouraging the private sector to participate and make future growth specifically tailored to that area. Future redevelopment should be high quality and should not only add to the city’s tax base but should have an economic development component that attracts jobs to these areas, as well. I have also initiated a beautification effort along the Lynnhaven Parkway corridor to revitalize the economic vitality of that area, and have helped restart the Lynnhaven Business Association to help grow and attract companies to that corridor. These kinds of efforts will help protect the green line and I am committed to that protection.
How can the city better promote industries that capitalize upon our veteran population? Our veteran population is such an important part of what makes Virginia Beach great, and that’s why City Council provided the land for the Veterans Care Center being built by the State. It is a much needed facility and our veterans deserve the best care possible. Veterans have amazing skills that are sought by a great many employers and not just private defense contractors. Many have medical experience, technical expertise and fantastic leadership skills that are valued assets in post-military careers. Nationally, veteran unemployment was in double digits just a few years ago. It is improving, and Virginia Beach has long been an attractive destination for those leaving the military to bring their families, and for good reason. That’s why Council’s focus on key industries that utilize those skills is so important.
Do you support the agricultural reserve program meant to ensure farmland can remain productive in rural areas of Virginia Beach? Please explain why. I support the Agricultural Reserve Program, unlike my opponent who was the only vote on Council to oppose it. Agri-business is one of the leading industries in Virginia Beach, and the ARP has preserved many thousands of acres for agricultural and successfully kept development from encroaching on rural Virginia Beach. The local economic impact of agri-business is well over $100 million per year. Extending development below the green line would have been a costly endeavor and would likely have destroyed the character of southern Virginia Beach and ended the economic contributions of agriculture. The ARP was a smart collaboration of the farming, environmental and business communities and it has served us well and I continue to support it.
Should the city maintain its “green line”? Please explain your position. I support maintaining the green line. Future development should be focused along established transportation corridors and not further south. I want to preserve our agricultural economy and heritage and development further south is counter to that goal.
Should the city extend Nimmo Parkway to Sandbridge? Please explain. I support the extension of Nimmo Parkway to Sandbridge. I know the issue has been hotly debated since long before I joined City Council, but for safety concerns I have supported the extension. Sandbridge was never designed to handle the level of traffic it sees, and there was a deadly accident on the road during my first year on Council. I have supported improvements to Sandbridge Road and extending Nimmo and will continue to support it.
Do you support the extension of light rain from Newtown Station to Town Center? Please explain. I am not elected to do what I want. I’m elected to do what you want. I will listen to the will of the people in the light rail referendum. It seems voters are split 50/50 in polling about light rail, and that’s been my experience talking with people. I wish we were talking about a truly regional transportation system rather than just a three-mile extension to Town Center. I do think we need to focus on better mobility and I have voted for many road expansion projects to address traffic congestion. But as far as this light rail proposal, vote yes or vote no and I’ll listen.
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