November 25, 2022

Newport News political candidates discuss key issues ahead of Election Day

Citizens heard from candidates for mayor, city council and the school board on Thursday evening.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Nearly 100 people gathered at Zion Baptist Church to hear from candidates vying for a place in Newport News city government.

Mayor McKinley Price chose not to seek a fourth term, leaving the office wide open to the four candidates vying to take his place.

The mayoral candidates include current city council members Saundra Cherry, David Jenkins and Tina Vick, as well as businessman and Marine Corps veteran Phillip Jones.

Janet Roach of 13News Now was the moderator.

First, she asked each candidate how they planned to address gun violence in the city. All four said they wanted to support law enforcement in this fight.

“As the aesthetics of our communities improve, that will prevent some of the crime, because a lot of people who commit crimes don’t want to come to neighborhoods that look good.”

“We currently have a real-time crime center, we have gunshot spotters in the south and in the north, as well as a license plate reader.

“We need to have grassroots involvement, we need to have wraparound services with early childhood development and also mental health available to our citizens.”

“We don’t have some sort of internal witness protection program for Newport News. So a lot of individuals who see a crime, they don’t come forward because they don’t feel safe. They don’t testify. , this individual is released back to the streets… Once this individual is in prison, they are serving their sentence, we have to make sure, as a community, that we welcome them when they return… and that he’s not backing down.”

As for community revitalization, Roach also asked how they plan to ensure it remains fair across the city.

“Looking at the best use of being able to renovate properties. As you can see we were able to win a $30 million grant to repurpose Ridley. It’s going to make our area so much better and do something we really need and that is, to bring affordable housing to our citizens of Newport News.”

“We’re looking to see how we can use the properties we have and build something that’s affordable, something that can be redeveloped, and something that would be great for residents of the city.”

“There is no excuse for not ensuring that every part of Newport News thrives and succeeds. We cannot afford the luxury of seeing some areas fail at the expense of others.”

“We know we have limited housing. We know resources are limited. That being said, how do we ensure that communities have a voice, a place at the table, that they are not displaced .”

Roach asked the three city council members what they say to people who want to see someone new or more energetic as mayor. On the other hand, she asked Jones, 33, what he says to people who say he’s too young and inexperienced.

Vick noted that she had been a counselor for 14 years and that having an experienced leader was important. She said she also wanted to focus on revitalizing their waterways and providing entertainment for young people.

Cherry said with age comes wisdom. She agrees that the city needs dynamism.

“A city to, not a city through,” she said.

Jenkins said he is an advocate for education and wants to continue working on things that have long been overlooked.

As for his young age, Jones said he had a Fortune 500 background and leadership experience in the Marine Corps. He also noted that Price had not served as a city councilor before being elected mayor.

As for why people should vote for them, here’s what they had to say.

“I have a heart for the community. I love people and want to thank all of you who have believed in me over the past 14 years.”

“I want to make sure we have strong public schools, we have public safety, and we also have business growth in our community.”

“I want us to be prosperous, I want us to be a great city. It starts with the grassroots. It means supporting our schools, it means supporting our law enforcement to make sure we reduce crime.”

“Newport News is at a crossroads. There are many challenges we face as a city. But with every challenge comes opportunity.”

The crowd also heard from six Newport News School Board nominees: incumbent Lisa Surles-Law, Jordan Gray, incumbent Douglas Brown, Andrew Hlavacek, incumbent Dr. Terri L. Best and Marlon Pendergraft.

They also heard from seven City Council candidates: Willard Maxwell Jr. and Curtis Bethany III are vying for the North District B seat. Cleon Long, Robert Coleman and Stephen Ferguson are competing for the Central District B seat. And school board member John Eley and entrepreneur Yugonda Sample-Jones are vying for the seat of South District B.

The school board candidates discussed things like safety, pandemic learning loss and the facilities master plan.

Candidates for city council debated topics such as city revitalization, race relations in the city and where to find money for new projects.

You can look whole forum here.