Ed. — Cheryl Turpin has announced her decision to leave the race since this story first appeared in print on Sunday, June 21. This story has been archived.
VIRGINIA BEACH — Former state Del. Cheryl Turpin, a Virginia Beach school teacher who served one term in the Virginia General Assembly, is among three candidates challenging City Councilmember Michael Berlucchi as he seeks to keep the Rose Hall District seat he won in a special election this past year.
Turpin filed paperwork on the Tuesday, June 9, deadline to run for the seat in the November general election, joining challengers Conrad Schesventer, who works at an Oceanfront hotel and unsuccessfully ran against Berlucchi last year, and Garry Hubbard, a construction contractor who also has sought local public office before.
While serving in the House of Delegates’ 85th District, Turpin did not seek reelection but ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Senate’s 7th District seat this past year. She lost in a close race to Republican Jen Kiggans, a political newcomer, after the seat became open when former state Sen. Frank Wagner, a Republican, announced his retirement.
In Berlucchi, she faces an incumbent who had strong support from backers and voters in the special election this past year — and long relationships through work on the city Human Rights Commission and leadership roles with organizations such as Hampton Roads Pride.
Asked about Turpin, the incumbent declined to criticize any of those running against him.
“I am so honored and excited and proud to have the opportunity to keep serving the people of Virginia Beach,” Berlucchi said when reached by phone. “A City Council seat doesn’t belong to any person or political party.”
Berlucchi, a Windsor Woods resident who is the Chrysler Museum of Art’s community outreach director, said he is proud of his work with the City Council.
“Even in one year, I’m really excited to compare my record with anyone, but we have more work to do,” Berlucchi said.
“I’m looking forward to connecting with every voter across Virginia Beach and ignoring the partisan politics that divides local government,” he added.
Turpin, a resident of Lexington at Nichols Park, said she will offer voters leadership while the city grapples with challenging times, including the revitalization of the local economy following novel coronavirus shutdowns. Turpin has said the City Council has not provided enough leadership.
“In all of these events that are occurring right now, there’s no presence from our City Council,” she said.
“I needed my mayor to stand there on camera and say we’re Virginia Beach, and we’re going to get through this,” she added. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to get through this.”
Turpin said she knows the importance of relationships between city and state legislative leaders, and she has existing relationships with state leaders due to her service in the General Assembly.
As a member of the City Council, she said, “My main goal is when we look at how we fund education, and the majority of our budget is education, and there’s no veteran educator on our council going, ‘That makes sense.’”
Turpin said she also has a background in environmental science to address issues related to recurrent flooding, a major issue facing the city.
“I’ve thought about it for a while, especially after the coronavirus was coming through and there was a complete lack of leadership and guidance from the City Council,” Turpin said, regarding running for office.
Schesventer, who views himself as a community activist and recently started a local issues talk show on social media, said the addition of Turpin gives voters choices.
“It really sets up a four-person race of people who are serious on all sides,” Schesventer said, though he noted it is a challenge to face people who may have more reach in areas such as raising funds.
Schesventer said he wants to stay in the race and see the conversation that develops.
“I still really want to fix flooding,” he said during a telephone interview. “I’m just going to think back, the past few years, how much was really done about flooding?”
He also wants to focus on issues such as transportation and development, and he expressed concern that some efforts to fight flooding and sea level rise did not get the backing they should have due to anticipated losses of revenue related to the coronavirus.
“It makes me think there could be a lack of headwind for trying to fix flooding,” Schesventer said.
He said he wants to be a good steward of the public trust, and, by seeking local office, he hopes to inspire trust in government at all levels and get themselves involved.
“I like the idea that someone even like myself can go out and run,” he said.
Hubbard, also reached by phone, said he hopes to campaign on important issues, especially the city’s economy as it seeks to recover.
“We still have problems in Virginia Beach,” he said. “We have flood mitigation we have to do. And now that we’ve had the virus, we really need to get our economic house in order. What do we do to bring business into the city, especially after the virus?”
He said he would work to represent every member of the city while seeking solutions to challenges.
“We’ve got to represent all of the citizens of Virginia Beach,” he said. “We’ve got to bring in real business into the city of Virginia Beach, and we’ve got to have affordable housing and transportation.”
Regarding Turpin entering the race, he said, “You know, I like Cheryl. Quite frankly, I think we have too many people running for City Council in different races.”
And he added, laughing, “I believe everybody has the right to run. Now, I don’t believe everybody has the right to beat me.”
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