Norfolk is at a critical juncture with changes in our city’s top leadership and the difficult challenges we face. Yet, we also are on the cusp of great and exciting opportunities for the future. I love my hometown, and I love public service. I believe I can offer a unique blend of qualifications that Norfolk needs in its mayor. These skills and experiences developed from serving in the Virginia General Assembly since 2002, from growing a successful family-owned business, from being an active member of many regional, city and grassroots organizations, and from forging many strong relationships with key decision-makers here in Norfolk, across Hampton Roads, and in the state and federal governments.
I am also running for mayor because we need to strengthen and expand our middle class in Norfolk. One of the best ways we can do that is through our public schools system. An excellent schools system is essential not only to prepare our children to succeed but to make sure Norfolk is able to create, attract, and grow businesses that offer good-paying jobs in a wide range of fields. Having a stronger middle class also is crucial for shoring up our housing options and neighborhoods.
Additionally, I am concerned about how we can best help children from economically poor families and neighborhoods. In Norfolk, 66.1 percent of our public schools students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. This figure reflects on the concentration of poverty in our population. This is important to know because the poverty rate is the most significant predictor of performance. We have to work harder and smarter to give all our students better options to succeed.
If we fail to give Norfolk children the preparation they need to be competitive, then we are failing our own community and risking our city’s ability to compete in the global economy.