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2018 Virginia Beach Elections: Questions for candidates for City Council, Centerville District, Special Election

Voters citywide choose the candidate to represent the Centerville District. [City of Virginia Beach]

THE INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for the Centerville District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council in the special election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. One candidate will fill the unexpired term of City Councilmember Bobby Dyer, who will vacate his seat due to his candidacy in the special election for mayor, in which Dyer faces City Councilmember Ben Davenport, at large. The answers to our questions in this series generally are not edited, aside from obvious punctuation issues, spacing and formatting or for clarity. Our full 17-page voter guide is now on stands.


C. Conrad Schesventer II

Residence: Near Pleasant Valley shops

Age: 32

Occupation: Beach Hotel Front Desk and Chess Coach

Education: Political Science Bachelors and Sports Management Masters from ODU.

Website: friendsforconrad.com // Phone: (757) 719-2113 // Email: Conrad564@aol.com // Social media: C. Conrad Schesventer II for Virginia Beach City Council on Facebook

What are your specific qualifications for this office? I am civically interested, and have broad knowledge of politics.

What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? The most important issue for VB is storm water flooding. I’ll first vote no on spending that diverts from the storm water fund, and second I’ll build a coalition of local politicians to secure Richmond and DC flooding grants.

What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? The Council has begun to mentally distance itself from the VB citizens. It taxes them but doesn’t care for them. I’ll care for them by not diverting from flooding, limiting public private partnerships, and fighting to loosen regulations that hurt individuals.

Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? I suggest redevelopment at our major shopping centers. The Beach is sufficiently developed. Housing development should be in areas properly vetted for flooding risk.

Virginia Beach has allowed limited development in the transition area between suburban and rural areas of the city, yet some of this development has proved costly to taxpayers. Should the city further limit projects in that area due to flooding and density concerns? I would vote to aim development in a way that is conscious of the green line and conscious of potential flood risk. Basically I wouldn’t suggest another Ashville Park so fast.

Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? I’d extend the water/sewer services south but not for the purpose of new development. Just for the purpose of making sure all current residents can have all possible city services.

Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be changed? This program has similar themes to New Deal programs that offered tax dollars to property owners to modify their economic behavior. We can zone out development, we do not need to bribe with tax dollars people to not develop. Discontinue the program.

How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Reform Stormwater system. Look toward engineering fixtures for living near a rising sea – there are guides to this like the Netherlands.

Voters from across the city select members of the city council, including members who represent district seats. Should the city consider another way of selecting members of the council, such as a ward system? The city shall work with the general assembly to change the VB voting system. Retire city wide at large, replace with direct district representation.

There is a sense that some developers in Virginia Beach are favored by government. What will you do to either ensure fairness for all business or fight this perception? I’ll let them know Beach developers are not in my pocket, nor endorse me. In fact I think the beach is sufficiently developed, and more minority developers are needed city wide as they’re largely frozen out of city contracts.

The city administration has faced controversy, including an effort to shutter the ARP to pay for storm water projects. Is it time to change city management? I have a stance that the VBDA and City Manager group are unaccountable bureaucracies. I suggest working with the general assembly to dissolve the bodies, save tax dollars, give their responsibilities to directly elected city council and mayor.

Over the past few years, the City Council has not taken decisive action to address short-term rentals, despite clear concern about them within residential communities. What should be done? Should Sandbridge be a special case? If so, why? Short term rentals are a free market development. I don’t scoff at their presence any more than I do Uber. I merely suggest the city enforce noise and cleanliness ordinances. 


Sabrina D. Wooten

Residence: Centerville District

Age: 43

Occupation: Chaplain for the Virginia Beach Police Department

Education: B.S. in Political Science, Masters degrees in Public Administration and Business Management. PhD candidate- Public Administration

Endorsements:  Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Beach Education Association, Fraternal Order of Police

Website: www.sabrinawooten.com // Phone: (757) 797-5625 // Email: wootensabrina@gmail.com // Social media:  www.facebook.com/wooten2win/, Twitter: @wooten2win

What are your specific qualifications for this office? I have been vested in the community serving as a chaplain for the Virginia Beach Police Department, a volunteer instructor and mentor for the Kempsville Entrepreneur Academy, as well as vice chair of the Virginia Beach Minority Council. Additionally, I have a strong educational background with a B.S. in Political Science, Master’s degrees in Business Management, Public Administration and I am a PhD candidate, Public Administration. I have a unique skill set as a Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator where I demonstrated the ability to work with opposing forces to bring them together and provide solutions to move forward. 

What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? In my opinion, flooding is the most pressing issue facing the citizens of Virginia Beach. The issue of flooding demands a multifaceted solution that requires research, data collection, strategic planning, maintenance and accountability.

It is essential that emergency drain cleaning and ditch clearing be performed to alleviate clogged drainage systems to minimize/eliminate flooding. BMPs should be dredged to their design depth. Additionally, we need to hold city officials accountable for the funding that has already been collected and ensure those funds are directed to perform timely routine maintenance and follow up. 

What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? Recent statistics reveal that one out of three new Hampton Roads business startups occur in Virginia Beach. As the vice chair for the Minority Business Council, I understand that entrepreneurs are attracted to communities that cultivate excellent schools and great neighborhoods. Hence, as we continue to support our schools and improve the infrastructure in our neighborhoods, we will attract new business startups as well as large corporations that want to relocate their employees and their families to a thriving city. Virginia Beach’s top infrastructure need is for a comprehensive transportation system that meets the demands of our growing population and environment. This will lead to economic vitality which leads to job growth.

I believe it is my responsibility to educate the public regarding priority infrastructure needs by holding forums and town hall meetings. Additionally, I believe it is necessary to work with HRTAC to develop a comprehensive regional transportation system that will benefit Virginia Beach.

Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? Development should be focused on the northern part of the city and redevelopment should be encouraged along existing transportation corridors where access to highways or mass transit allows for the redevelopment to prosper.  Some of our buildings are aging and new design standards can help make redevelopment a part of our solutions moving forward.

Virginia Beach has allowed limited development in the transition area between suburban and rural areas of the city, yet some of this development has proved costly to taxpayers. Should the city further limit projects in that area due to flooding and density concerns? Until we solve the massive flooding issues, I believe we should hold off on developing in land that is flood prone and potentially makes the problem worse.  

Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? I don’t think that would be productive or cost effective so I would oppose this issue.

Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be changed? I support the ARP and think it is a great success story from Virginia Beach that should be replicated in other cities.

How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Please see the above response as I believe flooding is  our most critical issue. Dredging BMPs and clearing ditches should be immediate. Then we move forward with the upgrades to the stormwater system.

Voters from across the city select members of the city council, including members who represent district seats. Should the city consider another way of selecting members of the council, such as a ward system? I believe the hybrid system that exists in Virginia Beach should be eliminated. I would suggest that we have separate districts like Norfolk or all at At-Large seats like Chesapeake to improve overall representation of for the citizens of Virginia Beach.

There is a sense that some developers in Virginia Beach are favored by government. What will you do to either ensure fairness for all business or fight this perception? The Disparity Study revealed this concern and I believe there are many changes Virginia Beach can make so that every business has a fair chance to compete and win contracts with the city.

The city administration has faced controversy, including an effort to shutter the ARP to pay for storm water projects. Is it time to change city management? As a new candidate, I have no personal experience with the city manager. Therefore, it would be best to withhold judgement regarding this matter at this time. It would not be fair for me to judge on the experience of others.

Over the past few years, the City Council has not taken decisive action to address short-term rentals, despite clear concern about them within residential communities. What should be done? Should Sandbridge be a special case? If so, why? I believe Sandbridge should be protected from over-regulation but neighborhoods inland like in my district of Centerville should have a say in the policies and regulations for their areas which are not coastal and not similar to Sandbridge.  


Eric V. Wray II

Residence: Centerville District

Age: 38

Occupation: Funeral Director/CEO

Military Service/Education: US Navy Veteran/Associates Degree

Endorsements: Police Benevolent Association 

Website: www.ericvwray.com // Phone: (757) 235-0441 // Email: Wrayforcouncil@gmail.com // Social media: Eric Wray for Virginia Beach Council

What are your specific qualifications for this office? I have the temperament and experience at all levels of government that makes me the ideal Councilman. I am running to do the work….to serve! In my professional life, I am conditioned to answer calls, answer emails, meet deadlines, visit areas, go to individuals’ residences, solve problems get things done.

What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? Infrastructure, Flooding, Sea Level Rise is the most pressing issue to Virginia Beach. Upon taking office in January, I will be committed to flooding as my first priority. We cannot wait 15 years, we need to fix flooding NOW.

What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council?

Fix Flooding 

Control City Spending 

Ending Police Pay Compression

Attracting New Small & Large Businesses to Virginia Beach

Free Parking at the Oceanfront 

Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? We have been developing in abundance. Our efforts need to address flooding as priority. 

Virginia Beach has allowed limited development in the transition area between suburban and rural areas of the city, yet some of this development has proved costly to taxpayers. Should the city further limit projects in that area due to flooding and density concerns? Each project must be judged on its own merit with community engagement. I don’t think any project should move forward if it accelerates our flooding issues. 

Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? No. The green line is the green line. Let’s separate rural from urban. 

Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be changed? I do support the ARP program; I want to end the waste and abuse of those using the program for personal gain. 

How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? We are just beginning to understand the financial and land use planning challenges will require of us to adapt to mitigate.  We need to accelerate the elimination of the backlog in canal, ditch and retention pond maintenance.

Voters from across the city select members of the city council, including members who represent district seats. Should the city consider another way of selecting members of the council, such as a ward system? I worked in 2012 to get the referendum on the ballot. I want to hear the will of beach voters and abide by how they vote. There needs to be another referendum. 

There is a sense that some developers in Virginia Beach are favored by government. What will you do to either ensure fairness for all business or fight this perception? This perception is a confirmed reality due to that developers pilot article. No one developer is entitled to city funding. After I’m elected, I will fight to level the playing field for anyone who wants to do business with our city. 

The city administration has faced controversy, including an effort to shutter the ARP to pay for storm water projects. Is it time to change city management? Our city management has had a plethora of issues regarding management style. The next council must re evaluate his contract and make changes if necessary. 

Over the past few years, the City Council has not taken decisive action to address short-term rentals, despite clear concern about them within residential communities. What should be done? Should Sandbridge be a special case? If so, why? Sandbridge is a different area; many use their properties as income. Sandbridge should be able to receive special conditions to allow short term rentals. Delegate Barry Knight’s bill adequately addressed this.


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The Independent News

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