Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for the Rose Hall District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council in the special election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Answers to our questions in this series generally are not edited, aside from obvious punctuation issues, spacing and formatting or for clarity. Our full voter guide is now on stands.
Residence: Windsor Forest
Occupation: Chrysler Museum of Art – Community and Government Relations Manager
Endorsements: Virginia Beach Education Association, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association 34
Phone: (757) 581-5624
Social media: @CouncilmanMichaelBerlucchi on Facebook
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Prior to serving on City Council, I was a member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and Community Development Corporation in addition to my work at Chrysler Museum. This level of community engagement was great preparation for public office, and I’ve continued that work as a Councilman. I’m part of a team that helps shape the future of our city where everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their full potential. This is how we as a city fulfill our full potential. Education, safety and economic development are so important, and they are among my top priorities.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? I think our most important task is to manage change. Markets change, opportunities change, economies change, and as Councilmembers we must manage change so that we make the most of these changes proactively. We also must preserve those things we do well and safeguard them, like our excellent schools and teachers, our police force and other first responders, and our jobs base with the military and agricultural communities. That balance is the most important task of a Councilman.
What are your three main policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? My first priority is to protect and expand economic opportunity and make sure the economy of Virginia Beach is vibrant with a growing jobs base and rising incomes. We continue our commitment to our excellent school system with talented, world class teachers that prepares young people for higher education, the workforce or entrepreneurship so that they can realize their dreams. And we must implement resilient strategies to mitigate recurrent flooding and its impact, both from storm events and tidal flooding, to increase the long term security of our city as an economic viability.
Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? I oppose approving development below the green line.
Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be lowered in favor of stormwater and flooding projects? I support the ARP and honestly the cost of stormwater and flooding products will need a dedicated funding stream outside of the ARP. Flooding improvements will be a very expensive, but needed, investment and I don’t think the answer is to raid and destroy other programs like the ARP to get there.
How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? We took a great first step in my first budget vote as a Councilman earlier this year which significantly increased the city’s spending on flooding projects. Council is considering a bond referendum next year to address these projects on a greater scale, so the voters will choose whether we have the funds to accelerate our implementation of stormwater and tidal flooding strategies.
How should the city balance the need to embrace transportation options such as electric scooters with the need to ensure safe operations and pay for enforcement? The city should engage in franchise agreements to make sure that we get the written commitments from scooter companies about areas of operations and safety as well as some long term partnerships with companies that want to work with the city versus those who don’t. Franchise agreements can also generate tax revenue which can be an additional funding stream for enforcement costs.
What quality do you value most in a potential city manager? Professionalism. A city manager has to have excellent organizational and communications skills to lead and employee base as large as ours and meet their commitments to City Council and the public. At all times, they should be respectful and professional in their conduct, appearance and execution of their duties in a transparent and positive way. Although not elected, he or she is a public official and should be open, transparent, fair and honorable in all things he does.
Should the city ban all firearms from municipal building, aside from those carried by sworn law enforcement officers? We’ve gotten mixed opinions on this from our city employees, with many asking us to allow them to defend themselves in city buildings. Our current investigations will make recommendations which we will take very seriously. Today, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not permit the city to enact such a ban, so until that law is changed, this is a moot point. I think we can make more progress by focusing on areas where most of us agree such as mental health services reform rather than argue about gun bans which don’t seem to stop criminals anyway.
Do you believe that maintaining the hybrid local election system, including district representation with residency requirements, is necessary? I think the residency requirement is necessary and there is great value to allowing everyone in the city to vote in all elections. Without this hybrid election system, I wouldn’t be advertising in the Princess Anne Independent News, because you the readers wouldn’t be able to vote in a Rose Hall election. I think I am a better Councilman for engaging with voters from Sandbridge to Pungo to Kempsville to Bayside. A ward system would limit your access to City Council, and I think that would not be an improvement.
C. CONRAD SCHESVENTER II
Residence: Chimney Hill area
Occupation: Hotel Front Desk
Military Service/Education Completed: Master’s
Phone: (757) 719-2113
Social media: @ConradforVB on Facebook
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I’m a resident of Rose Hall.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? Flooding, from storms and the sea. Use the Council position’s voice to lobby Richmond and DC hard for supplemental funding and vote against stormwater transfers.
What are your three main policy priorities as a potential member of the City Council? Work to end flooding, work to build a better bus transit system, balance beach development with the rest of the city.
Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? This is a question you’d have expected to be in 1919, not 2019. Yes.
Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should either the program or its dedicated funding level be lowered in favor of stormwater and flooding projects? I support half of it, the anti development half. Not the subsidize property owners with tax dollars half. Flooding is very important, yes, but not prepared to move funds around.
How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Listen to the Joint Land Use study and city/state/federal approved engineers. They say build tide gates and more storm water catching areas. So I want to commit to what the engineers say. Enough waiting around.
How should the city balance the need to embrace transportation options such as electric scooters with the need to ensure safe operations and pay for enforcement? By treating them with bike regulations. Helmets and eradic manuever rules.
What quality do you value most in a potential city manager? The patience of the most seasoned customer service worker. I’ve seen the last CM get attacked from all sides, I want them to hold their composure.
Should the city ban all firearms from municipal building, aside from those carried by sworn law enforcement officers? I spoke at that city council meeting, told the council they need to get mad. After they did nothing I called them cowards on social media. The city needs permission from Richmond first, and if they get it – sure hold that vote.
Do you believe that maintaining the hybrid local election system,including district representation with residency requirements, is necessary? What’s necessary, if we are to keep residency requirements, is a direct representation system and scrap the at-large system. Save for literal at-large seats. So if I run for Rose Hall, only Rose Hall ballots see my name.
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