We must have a thriving economy to sustain a talented workforce and to encourage more businesses to locate in Virginia Beach. As a small business owner and a real estate and business attorney, I know first-hand the challenges and the rewards of starting, owning and operating a business and have assumed significant volunteer roles, at both the local and regional level, for more than a dozen years.
I am on the executive committee of the Central Business District Association, which advocates for the continued growth and success of the Town Center-Pembroke area and provides networking opportunities year-round. I am also Vice President of Virginia Beach Vision, a non-partisan, issue-oriented group of 130 business and community leaders whose mission is to advance long-term strategic priorities for Virginia Beach and the region. I am also on the regional board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, and I chaired the Place Making and Place Marketing Committee for the Hampton Roads Alliance Recovery and Resiliency Action Framework.
These activities have educated me about issues impacting our local and regional economy. Lowering the tax burden on small businesses and making it easier to navigate the permitting process should be priorities. We also need to provide more business mentorship opportunities, workforce training programs and pathways for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses to participate in our local economy. With major initiatives underway like offshore wind and our regional broadband network, Virginia Beach can lead the region in tomorrow’s economy. And we should. It’s our time. After more than a decade of civic and volunteer involvement, I’ve developed close relationships with business and civic leaders at the city, region and state levels. If elected to represent the 9th District, you’ll have a prepared, informed, and reliable advocate for economic prosperity to benefit our community.
Virginia Beach is blessed with one of the best school systems in the nation. It’s consistently cited as the reason residents and businesses choose to locate themselves here. Our daughters all either attend, or will attend, our public schools. My number one priority is being a dad, and like any other parent, I want to make sure all our children can learn in a safe, modern, and thought-provoking environment.
Through my work with the Central Business District Association, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering with students at Princess Anne High for over 10 years. For the last 30, the CBDA has organized an annual Internship Day Program, where our member businesses host PAHS juniors and seniors for a day at work and lunchtime programing to inspire students as they take their next steps forward. As a member of the CBDX, our young professionals’ division, I orchestrated volunteer mentoring opportunities in the classroom. We also established a scholarship program for exceptional seniors at PAHS, rewarding students who demonstrate a desire to stay, or return and contribute, in Virginia Beach upon graduation.
We must not rest on our laurels. Maintaining our infrastructure, investing in technology, replacing aging buildings and recruiting, retaining and rewarding quality teachers, administrators and other personnel, including security in this troubling age, is essential. Virginia Beach City Public Schools have their own board and leadership, but they depend on City Council for funding. I support consistent communication and mutual respect between the two entities because our fortunes are inextricably linked.
Our proximity to the water is one of Virginia Beach’s greatest assets, but it also presents some of our most serious challenges. This is particularly true in the 9th District, which encompasses the Chesapeake Bay, the Lynnhaven River, Thalia Creek, and our freshwater reservoirs, Lake Smith and Lake Lawson. I am a steward of our city’s coastal wetland resources, serving as Chair of the Virginia Beach Wetlands Board. During my tenure, I oversaw a net gain in vegetated wetlands, either created or restored. During my time on that board, we also approved critical shoreline stabilization projects like sand replenishment at Chic’s Beach, the oceanfront, and Sandbridge. I am also on the board of Lynnhaven River Now, a non-profit dedicated to reducing contamination in our waterways and the restoration of lost habitats, such as oyster reefs, salt marshes and our native plants and forests.
I am passionate about saving our trees, which are critical to air and water quality and combatting coastal erosion. They also reduce flooding by absorbing water from the ground and returning it to the air through evapotranspiration. I’ve volunteered with Councilwoman Barbara Henley’s Forest Conservation and Reforestation Working Group. Working alongside representatives from the Virginia Department of Forestry, The Nature Conservancy, Lynnhaven River Now and city staff, we commissioned a peer-reviewed study that considered the value of trees to mitigate recurrent flooding in the southern watershed.
Lastly, all three of our daughters, Ilana, Yaara and Rowan, are named after trees, so they hold a special place in our family and are a testament to our commitment to protecting the environment.
Virginia Beach is the safest city of our size in the country thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our law enforcement community. True public safety depends on fostering an environment of trust and mutual respect between law enforcement and the public. Offering opportunities for the public to interact with law enforcement in community settings will help to strengthen these relationships. Advancing community policing efforts, diversity in hiring, addressing staffing shortages and officer wellness, investments in technology, and implementing the recommendations of the Citizen Review Panel Task Force should also be priorities.