Listening will be a hallmark of my tenure as mayor. I want to help turn best ideas ― from wherever they come ― into best practices. Just as our citizens need our city government for services, City Hall needs to enthusiastically welcome the participation of citizens. I also want to encourage all my fellow citizens to listen more to each other. We can all better appreciate our city’s problems that way, and I believe we can then build upon our successes more effectively to create an even greater Norfolk.
Economic and Workforce Development
Norfolk, with its wonderful natural harbor, is the traditional economic hub of our region. But even more valuable is our workforce. We owe it to ourselves and our families not only to improve our port facilities but to do all we can to prepare current and future generations for good-paying jobs in all sectors, to have the skills that attract and retain diverse corporate employers, small businesses and startup entrepreneurs, and not over-rely on military-related industries. A healthy Norfolk economy is essential for the entire region.
An excellent school system is essential to many of our goals, such as attracting, retaining and building middle-class families, and recruiting businesses that provide good-paying jobs. Our schools must be safe, nurturing places where our children and teachers can soar. But not all students should be prepared the same way: For example, we must do more to help non-college-bound students develop skills in emerging, good-paying fields that do not require college degrees.
Public Safety and Neighborhoods
Norfolk residents need to feel safe wherever they live, work or have fun ― all throughout the city. We must stop gun violence and other forms of violence in all our neighborhoods. This requires adequately funding our police department, increasing police presence in our neighborhoods, better addressing mental health issues that often lead to criminal behavior and keeping all of our neighborhoods, business districts and parks attractive and inviting.
Rising Sea Level and Resilience
Scientists believe that sea levels will be rising in coming decades and that cities, such as Norfolk, must be made ready. Norfolk’s strategy goes far beyond preparing for frequent floods. City leaders correctly have begun to lay out an evolving plan for rethinking the future of Norfolk and turning problems into opportunities. We can do it. Norfolk citizens have faced adversity countless times. Resilience is in our DNA. We know how to overcome. But all of Norfolk must be kept informed and provided with genuine opportunities to persevere and to benefit.
Hampton Roads stands among the nation’s worst transportation corridors. US 58 through the Midtown Tunnel is recognized as the most heavily traveled two-lane road east of the Mississippi. Westbound I-64 from Tidewater Drive to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel is one of the worst rush hour commutes in America. The influential Texas Transportation Institute concluded that we live in the 10th most congested large urban area.
This must change. As your Mayor, I will continue the fight for a fair solution to transportation that I began in the General Assembly. As state expenditures for maintenance begin to outpace funding for critical new projects, a broad coalition of citizens is needed to secure the transportation infrastructure that our families and businesses deserve.
Funding for transportation is a responsibility shared by all Virginians. Hampton Roads generates over $80 billion in yearly economic output, is home to three Fortune 1000 companies, 10 colleges and universities, four marine terminals, and a major US naval base. The nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has concluded that a mere 10 cent increase in the gasoline tax would raise an extra $500 million a year while only costing the typical driver an extra $8 per month.
Further, addressing transportation is about more than reduced congestion and shorter commutes. Hampton Roads is an international transportation hub and essential link in the global supply chain. The future of our success depends on our ability to quickly move goods and people by railroads, ships and ferries, buses, trucks, light rail, and airplanes to support our growing economy and provide for national security. I will continue my commitment to fight for the transportation funds we are owed, without privately brokered restrictions, and to work tirelessly to insure Hampton Roads preeminence as a global leader in transportation.