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Virginia Beach City Council Beach - Special Election

City Council members are responsible for developing city policies, approving the budget, determining the tax rate, and appointing the City Manager.The City Council is made up of the mayor and ten members. They serve four-year terms. Council member terms are staggered so that the entire board is never up for election at once.Seven City Council members must reside in a particular district, but are elected by a citywide vote. This year voters are selecting City Council members residing in Bayside, Beach, Lynnhaven, and Princess Anne districts. There is a special election for Beach district to fill a vacant seat. The winner will serve the remainder of the initial term.

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  • Candidate picture

    Richard W. "RK" Kowalewitch

  • Candidate picture

    Guy K. Tower

  • Rosemary A. Wilson

Biographical Information

What will you do to address sea level rise and increased flooding in Hampton Roads? In response to the inevitability of more flooding, how will you decide which projects to fund and how to pay for them? (1000 character limit)

In what ways will you advance the public schools as the economic driver in your city? (1000 character limit)

How should the city proceed to plan and fund improved public transit (buses, ferries, light rail or bus rapid transit)? (1000 character limit)

How can the city cooperate with neighboring localities to boost the region? (1000 character limit)

How will you promote economic growth in the city? (1000 character limit)

What can be done to ensure residents have access to affordable housing? (1000 character limit)

Explain your top priorities if elected. (1000 character limit)

Campaign Phone (757) 831-6143
Biography Owned RK’s Surf Shop for 31 years. I have been heavily involved in local politics and have exposed some of the corruption over the last 20 years. I have and am continuing to help change some of the conflict of interest laws at the local and state level. Attended ODU for 2 years. I am OSHA certified.
In the year 2002, storm water revenues were around $12M, and currently our revenues are around $40M with only $14M going to maintenance. Most recently, the current city council reduced the maintenance budget for storm water for the city. This is a very irresponsible decision. I will work to reverse this policy and focus our government in providing funding for our aging infrastructure problems. I have already reached out to the hierarchy of the Storm Water Maintenance Department and had a lengthy discussion on fixing the problem. The Storm Water Maintenance Department would need to prioritize the areas. It is not city council's job to decide this. In low lying areas, we need to build on pilings or raised foundations, and in some of the lowest areas, they should not be built on at all.
While our enrollment has been declining over the years, the budget has been increasing. One of the issues that I think would help is for the School Board to stop building Taj mahal schools and get back to basics and making sure that our teachers are getting paid competitive salaries. The School Board needs to continue to keep all schools fully accredited.
Our ridership on our bus system in VB has been declining. Part of the reason is Uber and other such services. What needs to be done, the bus stops should be covered for weather and lighted for safety. We need to go to smaller and more fuel-efficient buses to save tax dollars. Light rail will not work in VB. The citizens at 60% voted against it. The city is 310 sq. mi. and spread out. It would be economically not realistic. The citizens are already paying high taxes. A rapid bus option needs to be explored for possibly using the rail line that the city already owns.
I support open communications between cities, but every city has its unique needs. I would suggest the cities work together and share the cost with police and fire training. The cities would then be familiar with each other’s tactics and polices. This would be an economic benefit for all cities. The cities could also get together to discuss flooding issues and how to resolve them.
Ninety percent of all businesses in Virginia Beach are small businesses. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The government should be creating an environment where ALL businesses are successful. It does it by having low taxes, good schools, strong infrastructure, and few public safety issues. Any incentives given to businesses should be for business types that do not already exist, and those businesses should not be competing with like businesses. The free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice. This is what separates us from the rest of the world.

I believe this will create the desire to grow small business and attract new business to our area.
Unfortunately, in a free market economy, the market dictates what the price of houses will be. The City of VB is almost $2.4B in debt--$1.2B in bond debt and $1.2B in unfunded unmandated pension liabilities. I don’t know how it would be fair to ask the citizens to pay for property and then sell it at a lower price. That should not happen.

I think it needs to be explored to provide some incentives for police, firefighters, and teachers. They are a key part of the economic structure in a free enterprise system. I am for whatever will make this city better and is fair for all businesses and citizens. The citizens and businesses are already paying high taxes and fees. I want to decrease these, not increase them. I will be fiscally responsible with our budget.
• Corruption It appears that our government has prioritized to take care of their “buddies” and special interest groups, instead of citizens’ needs. The City Charter needs to be changed to make these conflicts much harder to occur and consequences much more severe. • Stormwater Stormwater has to be addressed NOW. We have plenty of money and will not have to raise taxes and fees today to fix it. We need to cut off special interest money and start spending it on the citizens’ needs. • Fairly compensate and fully fund and staff police, fire, and teachers We were 80 police officers short in 2002, and today we are 100 police officers short. This needs to be addressed immediately along with pay compression for police officers and firefighters. There is a real teacher shortage around the country. The city needs to keep salary competitive to attract and keep teachers in our area.

Campaign Phone (757) 304-0022
Biography A Richmond native and product of public schools, Guy graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology and a law degree. He worked for the law firm of Kaufman and Canoles, was director of the VA Bar Association, and he co-founded the state's largest mediation firm where he learned the consensus building skills that make him such an ideal member of a diverse governing body like City Council. Guy has served on Council since Apri and is seeking the Beach District seat Nov 5.
Twitter @TowerforVaB
Sea level rise is a global issue with very real local ramifications. Until our world and national leaders recognize their fiduciary and moral responsibility for future generations, the localities will be like the little Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike to hold back the waters. In Virginia Beach, the on-going Dewberry study on sea-level rise paints a very bleak and expensive worst-case scenario due to our location with water on three sides: the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. A re-examination of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan this year needs to include this information. Building codes should recognize this very real threat to future homeowners. Infrastructure placements/replacements must be strategically located as to reduce risks. Other nations and localities are accepting the fact that sea level is rising and are investing billions of dollars.
One of the most valuable resources in Virginia Beach is our public-school system with life-long learning being a cornerstone. Teachers are the critical link in the process as they are the inspiration for the student. Military families want to be stationed here because of the quality and diversity of offerings for their children. Our partnership with Tidewater Community College in workforce development can train students to fill technical job offerings in the region. The future will be dominated by artificial intelligence, robotics, computer skills and internet globalization. Graduates need to feel a sense of community and remain in the area to create new start-up businesses instead of moving to “the big-city”.
Public transit is a regional issue as is traffic in general. In an area as sprawling as ours, transportation is very challenging for those without their own vehicles. Hampton Roads Transit enables the localities to find common ground. HRT is the service provider both for residents with various levels of mobility challenges and those with no other form of transportation. In Virginia Beach, the bus service is the primary means of mass transit, with routes constantly analyzed for usage and cost effectiveness. The real question is funding from the national, state and local partners. Public transit is not revenue neutral and requires subsidies for operations and maintenance.
Virginia Beach is well represented on various regional boards and commissions, both public and private. The localities are closely linked due to geography, and the success of one benefits all. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission has been one of the opportunities where localities are able to seek common ground. The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance‘s primary mission is to market the region world-wide. Former City Manager Jim Spore is CEO of Reinvent Hampton Roads. There is a tremendous amount of talent and brain trust working to promote the opportunities in the region from the international ports, airline accessibility and military influence to our unique quality of life.
Economic growth flourishes due to several factors: quality education with diverse offerings, and not just for college bound individuals; a quality of life that provides a sense of safety and a unique community bond; an environment that offers places for family and individual exploration both culturally and physically. Localities that are revitalizing and growing recognize the holistic importance of the community and the partnership this creates to attract new businesses and retain quality employees. Virginia Beach has embraced and continues to build on these attributes. Our city has a high value quality of life, which is very marketable.
Shelter is a critical aspect of one’s life with the swings in economic well-being creating a constant struggle for many families. The impact on children reverberates throughout the education system. Affordable housing affects not only the economically disadvantaged, but teachers, firefighters, police, nurses and many private sector service employees. As the remaining buildable land becomes limited and more valuable, this issue is compounded for Virginia Beach. Creative means of mixing housing of various rents/sale/price-points has been explored and used. While limited in scope, it can be used as a model for future developments.
My top priority is the selection of a new city manager. Nothing a City Council does in Virginia is more important, because it is the legislative body's obligation to set policy and the manager's job to implement it. My background as an attorney and mediator working with major companies on decisions involving personnel enables me to be a key player in this process. I am also very concerned about climate change and sea level rise and its impact on flooding in our neighborhoods. We have made significant investments so far in addressing this problem. More will be necessary. Another priority of mine is to make sure our city employees continue recovering from the May 31 shooting, which has caused such personal and professional disruption. I also am very focused on the need to stem the talent drain that is impacting Virginia Beach and the rest of our region. We must hold onto our best and brightest while recruiting strong people and companies to provide the jobs that will build our economy.
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