Michael Berlucchi represents the Rose Hall District on the Virginia Beach City Council. Michael was born and raised in Virginia Beach,and graduated from Virginia Beach City Public Schools. He is the Community and Government Relations at the Chrysler Museum of Art. There, he creates and implements educational and community partnerships to expand and diversify museum audiences, particularly those in undeserved constituencies. Michael has volunteered on numerous boards and commissions.
My first budget vote was to increase significantly the funding for flooding solutions due to the engineering studies and the Dewberry study that have been completed. We have been working on securing additional funding from the state and federal governments and working with other cities in Hampton Roads to accomplish this. This may require a longer term effort like a bond referendum because the full cost of these improvements are enormous, but it is a commitment Council will make. Project priority is complex, because some flooding is stormwater related and some flooding is tidal, so the solutions for flooding in one part of the city aren’t analogous to flooding in others. The city has addressed some of the less complex solutions first but some of these improvements will take much longer than others. I represent the area flooded most by Hurricane Matthew and those improvements have funding in place.
I am a product of Virginia Beach Public Schools and I am proud of the education Virginia Beach provided me and credit it with my success today. Schools attract businesses, and the more closely aligned our curriculum is with the job market and the unmet skilled needs of business, the better an economic driver schools can become. The region has large shipbuilding workforces and one of the most active ports on the east coast. Our educational system should meet those job needs. We also should, and do, actively teach and encourage entrepreneurism so that the next big company isn’t one who moves here but is one that was started here and grows. Real world skills and internships make schools a stronger economic driver.
The current funding model of public transit needs to be modernized. Each city basically gets the service that they are willing to fund individually, and Hampton Roads Transit gets essentially an impossible task- to develop a regional transit system with a series of individual cities funding them annually. It doesn’t work and it hasn’t worked in quite a long time. Other regions have different funding models that give more long term stability that should be examined and reviewed. I believe we should think for more creativity and access to routes and that should include smaller vehicles that make more frequent routes.
I think we have a great opportunity. Several cities in South Hampton Roads have recently elected Mayors and new city managers. This is a great chance to bury decades-old differences that have divided cities in the past and foster new bonds of friendship and economic partnership and collaboration. The days of cities mimicking each other’s economic efforts and simply moving companies and jobs around the region with no net gain are over. We must work together because we are truly competing not with each other but with other states or nations in a global economy for revenue, products, services and growth.
Virginia Beach is marketing itself as a diverse, inclusive city and it is paying dividends. We received a lot of public attention with Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water event which was an unparalleled success, and plans for an even bigger event in 2020 are in the works. It truly showed what vision and leadership can do. Too often Virginia Beach has had more reasons to say “no” to economic game-changing proposals but I think we’ve proven that our future is now and economic growth won’t come without hard work and leadership to make things happen. No one can rest on their laurels economically and move ahead as a city.
We must make sure our Comprehensive Plan makes this a priority and make sure that the city doesn’t make housing more expensive through over regulation and requirements that do little more than increase the cost of new housing and make the affordability issue even worse. Since Virginia Beach is mostly built out, it’s a difficult problem to solve without much available land.
I have a Code of Ethics on my website that my campaign is committed to following, so I will not negatively attack my opponent or anyone associated with other campaigns or their families. I will not participate in the negative politics that have consumed most elections today. My top priorities include education, the economy, mental health funding reform, public safety, resilient environmental policies, and inclusion. I have been endorsed by the VB Education Association, Chamber of Commerce, police and firefighters organizations and other groups for these priorities.
Conrad was born at VB General in 1986. He attended Glenwood Elementary, Salem Middle, and Salem High Schools. From there he earned two degrees (Political Science, Sports Management) at Old Dominion. Afterwards he wrote for the Virginian Pilot, coached, and volunteered with NSU and ODU Athletics. He has been an activist, and a lobbyist. He has worked at the VB Oceanfront in the hotel industry since 2005.
I will aim my voice at the problem: Virginia Beach must keep its eye on the flooding ball and not stray from its funding. I will work at securing funding for more state/federal flooding improvements, as well as cutting the red tape at those levels of government holding VB back on projects.
I want to find out a way to copy the mechanism which allows Green Run Collegiate to be so academically successful compared to the state. Then I want to encourage the School Board to duplicate those methods. Because if GRC is a public school, with public funds – the rest should be able to copy it.
The city should massively overhaul its bus system. Something In The Water had to use school buses – it worked but wasn’t ideal. Make Rapid Bus Transit work, through HRT, in VB. And my voice will advocate for that in City Hall and Richmond. Fast Public Transit is the strongest variable for economic mobility.
Stop being stubborn. The 7 cities share the same problems: a sinking ground, a rising sea, weak transit. I liken it to a chess strategy – if you don’t know what to do, then look to improve your weakest points. Those are our weakest points, and I want to fight them with everyone’s help.
Fix the weakest points (transit and flooding). Then look to loosen some burdensome rules, like over Airbnb, food trucks, and e scooters. But affordability in housing is also needed. We can encourage growth if disposable income isn’t zapped by property taxes or rent.
Help from all sides, local-state-federal. I want to use my councilman’s voice in all three venues for it if needed. Federal, maybe state – for the idea of providing tax breaks or subsidy to offset the cost of housing. Localities and states need to work on property development that doesn’t create overly pricey houses.
Be the example of the “citizen councilperson.” Fight transparently and fight honestly for community improvement. Scoff big monied interests that seek to influence. Look to fix flooding and improve transit in a pure fashion.