Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for the Princess Anne District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The incumbent is noted. An additional candidate, Pieri Burton, has officially withdrawn from the race, but his name will still appear on ballots because they already had been printed when he withdrew. 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. The Princess Anne District encompasses the main coverage area for our newspaper.
Barbara M. Henley
Occupation: Family Farm – Henley Farm in Pungo
Education: BS in Education; Master of Urban Studies, ODU
Endorsements: Virginia Beach Education Association, Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters and Virginia Beach Fraternal Order of Police
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I am a native of Princess Anne County and specifically the former Pungo Borough. I know the area well, and I know many of the people who live here. Now, more than ever, Virginia Beach needs experienced, proven, steady leadership to provide a stable, financially secure, well managed city. As we deal with the forecasts of natural changes that affect our drainage capabilities, we must have demonstrated leadership in conservation and environmental concerns to meet those challenges. I believe I have that proven background to help lead the city as we make these important decisions for Virginia Beach.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? We are concluding the study phase of the sea level rise/recurrent flooding issue and now must make decisions about how we go forward with the recommendations that will be provided. Because the southern watershed, which encompasses about two-thirds of the city, drains to the Albemarle, I have been working to create a partnership among the municipalities of Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina that share the Albemarle Watershed. By working collaboratively with partners from academia, non-profit organizations, agencies and other municipalities, we can share knowledge and efforts as we move forward with solutions. It is exciting that we already have some successes.
What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? It is important that Virginia Beach be a fiscally sound city as evidenced by our Triple A bond rating from all three rating agencies. Our city must be a safe city, both from man-made as well as natural threats. Our education system must provide every child with the opportunity to get a good education that meets his/her needs. We must value our neighborhoods and assure that they are all good, safe places to live, play and raise families. We must plan for areas to accommodate future economic growth while we continue to seek out and cultivate those economic opportunities that “fit” our city. As we continue to support our existing industries, such as the military, agriculture and tourism, we will encourage new investors with our positive response. We must show that we value all of the more than 450,000 citizens in our city, with our support for the diversity of needs that our citizens have. It will continue to be my policy to respect all of our citizens, the staff that serves the city, and my council colleagues as we work through our different perspectives and opinions to find the common ground that will allow our city to move forward as a leader among cities.
Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? It has long been a policy of the city that development should be guided to those areas that have the infrastructure that is necessary for that development. This policy will be especially important during this time that we are adjusting our drainage/stormwater system to meet the demands of seal level rise and climate changes. As the scientific data and modeling is produced that will allow us to make the determinations of where and how development can best be accommodated, our planning policies will need to be adjusted to guide development to those areas.
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? Shortly, we will receive results of the work that has been underway to recommend how we might address future sea level rise and recurrent flooding. With this new scientific data, we will need to re-examine not only where development should and should not occur, but also new standards for how new building should be constructed. It is critical that we all take part in determining which recommendations should be adopted and then followed. I was not on the city council in 2003 when the Transition Area Plan was adopted, and several subsequent developments were approved. Unfortunately, drainage plans were not considered before rezoning approvals, and the unique situations of the southern watershed were not appreciated. With the new scientific data that we will have, we should act immediately to make needed adjustments to city policies.
Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? It has long been the policy that water and sewer services would not be extended south of Indian River Road since those utilities accommodate and encourage higher density development than what is planned for this area. I suspect that the data we receive regarding the future projections regarding drainage issues will bear out that this was the proper policy for the area and that it should be maintained for the future.
Do you support the Agricultural Reserve Program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be changed? As one of the architects for the creation of the ARP. I most certainly support the program and believe that it has allowed the area to remain rural. I think that the program has great potential to also serve as a tool for helping address the drainage issues. By making adjustments to some of the qualifications for the program, such as elevation requirements, we can allow more properties to be protected from development. These adjustments are already being considered for recommendation. If the program is broadened, it will probably require more funding.
How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? This is a very broad issue that will require many tools to address. There is no quick fix for this long-term issue. All citizens need to be involved, every step along the way, because it will require all of us working together to make the adjustments and adaptations that will be required. As a first line of defense, we need to strengthen our natural systems, such as avoidance of flood-prone areas for development and appreciation of our green infrastructure, such as our marshes and forests. Engineered solutions need to be carefully considered and adopted only after assurances that we are not fixing one thing by creating another problem.
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? We have a large, diverse, unique city which deserves a voting system that recognizes our situation. I fear that wards would divide the city when we need to be united. All city council members vote on all of the issues. Therefore, I believe that all city council members should be responsible to all of the citizens. If a councilmember only has to be responsible to the people in his/her ward, his/her attention only needs to focus on that area. Councilmembers need to be concerned about the whole city, not just a little fiefdom. I believe the rural area would really have difficulty getting attention from a majority of councilmembers if we go to wards.
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 have always given equal attention to all businesses and investors. Incentive programs have a specified process which must be followed and measurable standards that must be met. It is important that the information about that process is conveyed to the public. Perhaps the city must do more to get the word out since it is not always the subject of news stories. More reporting of those programs on the city media sites could also lead more businesses to apply.
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? The ARP and the stormwater maintenance funding for the rural areas were strengthened when we considered the opportunity to use excess funds from the ARP for drainage issues. It is my hope that we will find greater opportunities for using the ARP now that we are recognizing the benefits of the program for addressing drainage, as well as for the preservation of farmlands. When we find multiple benefits for a program we have a strengthened program. This was a healthy discussion that resulted in greater benefits, hardly a reason to bring criticism.
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? When asked by the Sandbridge Business Association and the Sandbridge Civic League to look at the problems of “event houses” in June of 2015, I took the issue to city council for consideration. Because the issue involves the whole city, not just one community, it is demanded that the effect of any ordinance on all neighborhoods with residential components in the city be a consideration. This is particularly true because these rentals were issued permits as single family residences, not as “tourist homes.” I believe that it is important that neighborhoods be protected so that this commercial use does not create problems for the peaceful enjoyment of one’s home. Consideration of our neighbors is a basic quality that we all should embrace, and it should not be so difficult for us to arrive at solutions that do that.
Karen B. Kwasny
Residence: Ashville Park
Occupation: Assistant Professor of English, Multicultural Literature and Cultural Studies
Endorsements: Glenn Davis, Jason Miyares and the Sandbridge Beach Business Association
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I have been a member of the Transition Area/Interfacility Traffic Area Citizens Advisory Committee since 2014, VB 2040 since 2016, and the Princess Anne District representative on the Planning Commission since 2015. I also teach at the college level and have a passion for history, civic engagement, and responsible stewardship; these interests are part of what drove me to run for office.
Now is the time for new leadership in this district, for new energy, new ideas, and the experience to take on work already started, projects yet to be finished, and new ones soon to come. I am the change needed; I am qualified and ready to lead.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? Sea level rise (and its related issues) is the most pressing issue, and one that clearly demonstrates the need for change in this City Council race. Despite decades of information and hours of meetings on these issues, surprisingly little has been done to prepare our district for the impacts of these issues, such as more frequent and intense storms and growing wind tides. We need a leader who can act now, one who can lead on Council and throughout the city and region to tackle issues and fix problems rather than simply talk about them and, sometimes, divide communities in the process.
What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? My policy priorities are a matter of action. Many candidates share the same policy goals: They want to solve flooding issues, they want to bring better jobs, they want to eliminate insider deals and cronyism. The question is which candidates will do more than talk? I’m not running to make speeches or kick various cans down the road. I’m not favoring 15 year plans. I am running to create and act on solutions that benefit the many not the few. My first priority is addressing flooding, a complex issue without a one-size-fits-all solution. It will take a united will, community input, and regional relationships we can leverage for state and federal funding to afford expensive solutions. My 2nd priority will help us fulfill the first; we bring new industry to our city as planned: technology, biomedical, alternative energies to grow our economic base. My 3rd priority focuses our attention on redevelopment, revitalization, and repurposing our aging housing, retail, and office spaces. And my 4th priority expands and diversifies 2 of our largest industries: tourism and agriculture.
I work to bring people together, find solutions, and do more than make plans. Together, we can be resilient and sustainable for future generations.
Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? Council has designated various strategic growth areas throughout the city to focus future development near transportation corridors. I am also a strong advocate for redevelopment throughout the city. Our aging house, retail, and office space markets must be attended to through creative redevelopment and repurposing. Redevelopment is key to resiliency and to the success of our Strategic Growth Areas, where vertical density is to be directed and redevelopment/development is planned.
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 have voted against developments that I thought would exacerbate flooding issues and I will continue that on City Council. I think there is clear agreement that we need to fix our stormwater systems now and not repeat mistakes of the past. As well, the Transition Area is meant to provide a buffer to our rural area and there is to be a noticeable shift in density from from north to south. I believe the recommendations soon to be shared will indicate that some land in the Transition Area will serve all of us better by being maintained at the current zoning, and perhaps using ARP/Open Space funds (when available) to acquire properties that if left undeveloped could serve all of us here in relation to flood relief.
Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? No. I will hold firm on the Green Line and the Transition Area guidelines as I have as a member of the Planning Commission. And I will consider amendments to those guidelines to protect vulnerable land if deemed necessary according the recommendations of the Dewberry and watershed studies.
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 I believe we should consider ways to expand the program. I think the ARP has served us well in preventing development in the southern area of the city and it will be a valuable tool for us going forward in relation to land preservation to address sea level rise and related flooding issues. Unlike one candidate in this race who said “The ARP should probably go away,” I think it needs to continue and be a part of our flood mitigation plans moving forward.
How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? I have been emphasizing the need for a regional resiliency plan for the past four years, both in my work on the Planning Commission and as a resident of the Transition Area, an area of the city significantly affected by flooding issues related to SLR, more severe and frequent weather events, and subsidence. Our initial investments should dredge BMPs and canals, which no longer handle the capacity they once did. As well, we better prepare for an expensive solution over the next decade and we need to seek additional funding from state and federal sources to implement change.
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 fear a great many people don’t understand that they can vote in districts that they don’t live in, and elections shouldn’t be confusing. I respect those who favor change and would support a referendum for public input on this process. However, as a district Planning Commissioner, I see the value of serving the whole city and not just my district. I think our current system encourages that and gives voters the maximum participation.
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 current disparity study will give the city many recommendations to correct what are some fairly widespread problems with equal competitive access to city project work. When the Governor of Virginia says the city has favoritism issues, it is foolish to deny it. Change comes with electoral change, and it’s time to put aside decades-long political connections and enemies alike and start with a fresh voice.
I teach multicultural literature and studies and I have spent my career emphasizing the value of diversity. In my work on VB 2040, I have emphasized the need for the city to value and ready for a changing demographic, specifically in terms of age, gender, and race.
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’ve never worked directly with the city manager, so I can’t say from experience what actions have been privately taken to address his controversies. As a member of Council, I wouldn’t stand for unprofessional remarks and for actions that are outside of and in contrast to the direction he receives from Council.
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? The past few years have divided communities and neighbors on the short term rental issue to the degree that the General Assembly had to step in to protect Sandbridge, a revenue driver, from the actions of the incumbent. A “one size fits all” approach will not work and different parts of the city have different priorities. Communities that want to allow them should be able to apply for an overlay district that will regulate them to meet acceptable standards and grandfather those that pre-exist.
Tim P. Worst
Neighborhood: Lago Mar
Occupation: City of Va Beach Public Schools, Bus Driver (Part Time) and Advanced Auto Parts (Part Time)
Education: Kempsville High School (1986) and Newberry College (1993)
Key endorsements: Police Benevolent Association (PBA), Councilman John Moss and Councilwoman Jessica Abbott
What are your specific qualifications for this office?
► I’m a born and raised Virginia Beach kid. I graduated from Kempsville in 1986. Except for college, I’ve lived here most of my life. I’ve lived in Arrowhead, Kempsville, Pembroke, and now Lagomar for the last 16 years.
► I’m not a politician. I don’t have to abstain from votes for conflicts of interest.
► I’ve worked in Education, Insurance, Sales, and Customer Service. I’ve worked for very large companies with 2,500 employees and small companies with as few as 6 employees. I’ve got experience.
► I’m not some rich person who residents won’t be able to relate. I grew up here, raised kids here, been on Church Council, Coached kids for 25 years in basketball and fastpitch softball.
► I was the 2003 GEICO Volunteer of the Year out of 22,000 employees. I was the local 2006 GEICO Volunteer of the Year. I ran the Worst Golf Tournament for 12 years that raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Alzheimers Association. I’ve volunteered for the Special Olympics for several years, I’ve shaved my head and raised money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for childhood cancer. I like to serve and help others. I listen, and I care.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it if elected? Flooding. To make this a top priority we need to terminate our current City Manager as soon as possible. We need to get back on track starting January 2nd from our current 12 year back log of cleaning out ditches, pipes, and dredging. We need to get to work on how to grow the milfoil grass in Back Bay, Shipps Bay, and North Bay. We need to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and see about building manmade inlets to stop so much of the wind tides. Lastly, stop all development in and near low lying areas, swamp land, or flood plains. I hear from almost every person who has issues with flooding in Pungo/Sandbridge that, “this is the worst they have ever seen,” and “It used to not be like this.” Now is the time for change! Our current City Councilwoman approved ARP reserves for Light Rail. However, she would not approve those same funds to help with flooding.
What are your policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council?
► Public Safety. I have the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association. I want to fix pay compression once and for all and stop with the band aid fixes for our officers’ pay. I want our officers fully staffed and equipped. We have been 60-80 officers short for years. When we have snow or high water we are sometimes only able to put 10% of the officers on the streets. That is dangerously unacceptable.
► Business. I want to make starting and running a small business easier with less red tape. The first three people I met after I announced my campaign were three small business owners who talked of how difficult current City Council can make life. We need to encourage and lessen the hassle to have small businesses become more successful in Va Beach. City Council should not be picking winners and losers in business contracts. Contracts like the Cavalier and the initial Pier Bid favored Bruce Thompson. I’m for a level playing ground for ALL businesses in Va Beach. Let capitalism take over. I stood up to our ex Mayor Will Sessoms on January 16th about the crony pier deal and did so again with our current City Council on the cronyism/nepotism of reappointing Dot Wood (Mother of a City Councilman) to the VBDA board. Our current Princess Anne District rep voted in favor of Dot Wood’s reappointment to the VBDA.
► Infrastructure: We have pipes as old as 80 years old running through our city. We need to update our infrastructure. We need newer infrastructure that can handle the amount of storm water running through them on a regular basis. Fixing flooding will require new infrastructure. Roads need re-paved. How do we choose which roads get done? I’d like to hear from the residents about the worst roads in the Princess Anne district. And potholes, why does the city fix the same pothole and same area over and over?
Where should redevelopment or development efforts be focused? Not beyond what is our latest and last GREEN LINE which is Indian River Rd and Princess Anne Rd. Right now, I do not have a focus at all on redevelopment or development in the Princess Anne District.
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? Yes, indeed. We should not develop any area in, near, or close to flooding. We should not develop in swamp land. We should not develop where we are currently having flooding issues. I’m not running to represent DEVELOPERS and BUILDERS, I am running to be the City Council Rep for the people of Princess Anne County and the rest of Va Beach. All of us are much more important than any 1 development.
Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? No. The cost is enormous, and this is one-way Pungo/Blackwater are unique. Let me say this loud and clear: I do NOT promote development beyond the green line! Listen to the residents all over Pungo/Blackwater, they as a huge majority do not want development. Listen to the residents. That’s the #1 reason why I do not support Harvest Farms. Residents don’t want it.
Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be changed? Yes! 100%. But I support it 100% for farmers of that land in the ARP only. I do not support the buying of property and getting into the ARP as a financial gain or investment. It should be for Farmers and only farmers.
The current funding level should not be changed. A true fact is that Mrs. Henley has lowered the level two times. A true fact is that Mrs. Henley agreed to give ARP reserves to help get Light Rail. Light Rail failed. Mrs. Henley was then asked to give those same ARP reserves to help fund fixing some flooding issues and she refused.
How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Stop the development at the Oceanfront. We need higher minimal standards for developing/building. Don’t disregard land subsidence. Literally and figuratively, raise the standards. Save green space (little that is left like 1st street/the loop). Take a look at where the recurring flooding is and find out why. Crushed pipes? No room in the ditch/creek? Pipes clogged? We’re 12 years behind on cleaning out ditches and pipes thanks to our City Manager Hansen and the majority of our council. Grow the milfoil grass in Back Bay and North Bay. Build a manmade inlet/jetty in the North Bay/Back Bay to help lessen the effect of the South winds and water being pushed up. Get busy now and stop talking about it.
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? Yes. I support district or wards. Right now, it is very possible for a district to vote for a candidate overwhelmingly and that candidate lose. If the Princess Anne district as a majority votes for me overwhelmingly but Great Neck, Rose Hall, Beach, etc. vote for Mrs. Henley. The total number of votes for the entire city could be greater for Mrs. Henley, and then the Princess Anne District does NOT elect the candidate they voted for.
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? Thanks to most of our current VBDA, our City Manager, and our ex-Mayor there is favoritism for some developers. I’ll continue to encourage folks to vote for Bobby Dyer as Mayor, encourage residents to vote out all the incumbents except for John Moss who have allowed the nepotism.
I’ll vote for the City Council to abide by the City Charter and not allow a 3rd party like the VBDA to borrow millions of dollars and approve projects. I’ll vote for the people of Va Beach to be given the chance to vote on any and all borrowing of $10 million or more.
I’ll vote in favor of a new definition for the term, “conflict of interest,” per the City Council and VBDA. The definition needs to include relatives like your Mother.
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? It was time to fire our current City Manager Hansen after he threatened a State official. It was time to fire him after a demeaning [comment] on a Va Beach Police officer. It was time to fire him after repeatedly asking for funds to shut down 41st street at the beach for favored developer Bruce Thompson. With a majority on City Council in January of 2019 like Moss, Abbott, Myself, Dyer, Wray, and RK (and/or others) we can vote to terminate the City Manager effective immediately.
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? You have the right to rent your house out or rent a room out. However, when doing so if the result is a burden, nuisance, or safety matter to your neighbor(s) than that needs to be addressed accordingly.
Enforce the current laws and regulations on the books. Our police officers do not have the time nor the man power to enforce the desire of a few for overregulating rentals. One City Code that needs updated is 16-41.2.
When an RV is illegally parked the RV owner is given seven days to comply with the order. Well, seven days is the usual number of days for a rental in Va Beach. We need to reduce the allotted time given to comply to 2-3 days.
Sandbridge is already a special case per the VA General Assembly. I support less government interference.
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