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2020 Virginia Beach Elections: Questions for candidates for City Council, Kempsville

THE INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for the Kempsville District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council on the Tuesday, Nov. 3, ballot. Answers to our questions in this series generally are not edited, aside from obvious punctuation issues, spacing and formatting, or for clarity. The print edition containing our full voter guide is now on stands. Please reach the editor with any questions or concerns via email.

[Charles Apple/For The Independent News]


JESSICA P. ABBOTT

Residence: Indian Lakes

Age: 31

Occupation: Insurance professional

Military Service/Education: LUTCF and FSCP from American College of Financial Services; FEMA-certified

Endorsements: Delegate Glenn Davis, Mayor Bobby Dyer, Councilman John Moss 

Website: jessicapabbottvb.com

Phone: (757) 577-2068

Email: jabbott@jessicapabbott.com

Social media: @jessicapabbottvb on Facebook

What are your specific qualifications for this office? 2020 has shown us that the issues facing Virginia Beach are complicated, and in my first term I have benefitted a great deal to learn from experienced Councilmembers with an enormous amount of legacy knowledge. I am FEMA-certified and I have championed the issue of recurrent flooding. As a small business owner and mother of a 2-year-old and 5-year-old, my family has invested in a successful future of Virginia Beach. 

I genuinely listen. I conducted the first-ever “Midterm Report Card” halfway through my first term by asking for direct input from residents about my job performance and then published the results. I am transparent by explaining significant votes on social media and conducting surveys on several issues.

What is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? Livability. We have a great community in Virginia Beach, and we must keep our city affordable enough to truly be a Community for a Lifetime. Especially during these challenging times, we must hold the line on unnecessary tax and fee increases while funding core responsibilities, like fully-accredited schools and safe neighborhoods. We must promote economic growth for small businesses that will propel long-term prosperity and diversify our economy. We should also look to other cities and observe their economic successes and have the courage to try different approaches than what we’ve done in the past.

What are your three main policy priorities? Public safety, education, and flooding. 

I am proud to have supported funding a solution to address the pay compression issue for our First Responders and a workforce development program to improve recruitment and retention of police officers, who maintain Virginia Beach as one of the safest large cities in the US. 

As the wife of a Virginia Beach teacher and the mother of a son entering kindergarten, I can appreciate the hard work that makes excellent schools. Due to COVID-19, I voted to restore $7.7 million in previously cut funding for schools. We must continue to support our fully-accredited schools.

I am committed to accelerating funding for long-term flooding mitigation projects and drainage maintenance. I have been a reliable advocate to make this issue a budgetary priority. We must also preserve open space and protect wetlands.

Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? No, I do not agree with extending city services south of Indian River Road to encourage more development. I believe that one of the best qualities of Virginia Beach is our unique geographical diversity. The integrity of the rural areas in the southern part of our community should be preserved.

Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should its dedicated funding level be lowered in favor of applying that money to stormwater and flooding projects? The Agriculture Reserve Program has been tremendously successful over the years and has been a benefit to the Virginia Beach taxpayer and to preserving our agricultural economy. The program is a tool we have in our tool box to preserve green space and the rural elements of our city, and it can also help to mitigate our stormwater issues. The program should remain funded.

This year, the City Council approved a conditional use permit to allow an event venue to operate on land zoned for agriculture in rural Virginia Beach. Do you believe nonfarming businesses should be allowed on agriculturally zoned land in the rural area of the city? Why or why not? Within reason, I believe that low-impact event businesses can be considered, but they should be conditionally approved, vetted by the public, and have limited impervious surfaces.

How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Recurrent flooding and sea-level rise pose the greatest risk to the longevity of our region and we must be proactive. I co-sponsored alternate city budgets that better prioritized funding solutions to recurrent flooding, without raising taxes or fees, by responsibly allocating debt and letting some expensive development projects take a back seat. I sponsored an ordinance that dedicated more revenue from city projects to fund stormwater and I secured funding to permanently preserve wetlands on the Elizabeth River. We also must utilize Green Infrastructure, such as wetlands, rain barrels, and planting trees, to complement flooding and stormwater mitigation projects.

How can the city help address concerns about equality that are the subject of recent unrest here and around the nation? We can improve by engaging our community and building bridges of trust to rekindle our unity. We are fortunate to have a highly-skilled, professional police force who keep our city one of the safest in the US and with very low rates of incidents – they should remain fully-funded. I believe we should also revamp our Civilian Review Board to provide additional transparency and accountability and continue funding body cameras that protect both officers and residents.

Has the city done enough to help the restaurant and hospitality industry recover from shutdowns related to the pandemic? This budget cycle reflected some of the most difficult budgeting decisions our City Council has had to make since the last major recession. I supported a city budget that was flexible enough to support our city with excellent services but was lean enough to reflect the hard budgetary decisions residents were making with their own households. I advocated for tax relief for residents and businesses and held the line on any tax or fee increases. We must find budgetary efficiencies in the budget that the people of Virginia Beach have entrusted us to balance.

Do you believe that maintaining the hybrid local election system, including district representation with residency requirements, is necessary? I do not personally believe the current hybrid system is necessary, but ultimately I believe any decision regarding our election system should be made by the voters. We can agree that much has changed in Virginia Beach over the past 24 years. I believe we need a reliable, updated indicator of support for the issue from the public, and I would support a public referendum.


WILLIAM J. “BILL” DALE

Residence: Kempsville District

Age: 72

Occupation: Financial Advisor

Military Service/Education: B.A. Philosophy, Doctor of Ministry

Endorsements: Virginia Beach Education Association-Political Action Committee of Educators, Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters and Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association

Website: daleforcitycouncil.com

Phone: (757) 748-0821

Email: wjdale@verizon.net

Social Media: @billdalevb on Facebook

What are your specific qualifications for this office? Lived in Kempsville for 40 years and active in community life during that time. Founded Va Beach Coalition for the homeless, started Church shelter program, helped form Va Beach Police chaplains program and served for five years. Chaired task force that led to establishment of Human Rights Commission. First chair of Investigative Review Panel, served 4 years, serve 12 years on Virginia Beach Personnel Board.

What is the most important issue facing the city and how will you address it in office? The most important issue facing the city today is the wide impact of the corona virus. It has a direct impact on education, businesses closing, unemployment, tourism, our cities economy and most importantly peoples well being and lives. It will guide every decision, shape our efforts in planning, and direct our focus toward a plan for recovery.

What are your three main policy priorities? Three main priorities:

Responding to the demands of the Corona Virus Pandemic particularly as it impacts education, health care, economic issues, small businesses, unemployment and housing. The list is clearly longer.

Directing attention to the calls for reform in our police department. I believe the perception is far worse that the reality and that our department has been victim of the national debate taking place.  We need greater transparency, a continued evolution in our hiring process, and continued growth and development in community policing. The goal must be to eliminate any fear of the police by any group in our city.

We have to respond to the continual flooding in our city and our first efforts must be directed to the 14 communities gravely affected.  The impact of sea level rise must also be addressed and this should be done regionally.

Should city services such as water and sewer be extended south of Indian River Road to promote development of rural communities? I am very leery of extending city services such as water and sewer south of Indian River Road, the Green Line. This would violate a community wide agreement that development would be contained. It would easily begin uncontrolled expansion absent the infrastructure that would be required.

Do you support the agricultural reserve program, or ARP? Should its dedicated funding level be lowered in favor of applying that money to stormwater and flooding projects? I support the ARP as a vital tool to contain development and preserve some green space. Stormwater and flooding projects should be the responsibility of the whole community.  

This year, the City Council approved a conditional use permit to allow an event venue to operate on land zoned for agriculture in rural Virginia Beach. Do you believe nonfarming businesses should be allowed on agriculturally zoned land in the rural area of the city? Why or why not? I do not support non-farming businesses being permitted on land zoned for agricultural use. Not only does it weaken the process of zoning but it also sets a precedent whereby other no farming businesses can claim a right to be established.

How should the city address concerns about sea level rise and recurrent flooding? As stated earlier our first priority must be to address the flooding in the aforementioned 14 communities. I would support a bond referendum with the provision that the money be used only to respond to this flooding.  Sea level rise is a critical but long-term issue.  I would support the continuing regional efforts together with State, National and military partners addressing a planned response.

Has the city done enough to help the restaurant and hospitality industry recover from shutdowns related to the pandemic? It is much to soon to raise this question, while some may not like to admit it, the pandemic is far from being over and its impact will continue to effect small businesses particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industry. I would propose exploring a Marshall Plan response once this virus is behind us. Using all the resources at our disposal I believe we can jump start the reemergence of businesses forced to shut down and new ones as well.

Do you believe that maintaining the hybrid local election system, including district representation with residency requirements, is necessary? The present hybrid system makes it very costly to run for office and difficult for new candidates to emerge. My fear is that the proposed district system will make it almost impossible for minority candidates to be elected to office. The demographics of the Beach are the basis for my fear. If a change is needed, we would do well to clearly state what would be gained and what would be lost and only than weigh the evidence.


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