Monday, May 02, 2016

Election Day in Norfolk

Who Will the People Choose?
            Tuesday, May 3, is election day in Norfolk, VA. We’re voting for mayor, city council, and school board. All are significant. Paul Fraim has been Norfolk Mayor for 22 years, as long as I’ve lived here. Now he’s calling it quits. He wants to go back to private life.
Mayor Frain
            Three candidates are running to replace Fraim. As I ponder who to vote for, I ask myself: Which one do I think is most qualified to be the chief executive of a city I want to live in?
            On City Council, a long-time incumbent, solidly in the pro-business camp, is defending his Superward 6 seat against two challengers who wish to change the status quo, though not in the exact same ways. I live in Superward 6, so this conceivably matters to me.
           Finally, two candidates are running in Ward 6 for one seat on the school board. One is an incumbent, a pediatrician. The other is a successful local businessman who has three kids in Norfolk public schools. This is Norfolk’s first school board election. Previously, City Council appointed school board members. Many of Norfolk’s schools are on the state’s endangered species list, so who’s on the school board also matters.
            Most of the debate I’ve tuned into is about economic development. Creating the conditions to attract successful corporations to Norfolk is a priority. Improving Norfolk’s schools to provide a skilled work force for those corporations is part of that picture.
            But as everyone knows, Norfolk is second only to New Orleans as the East Coast city most vulnerable to rising seas caused by climate change. Yet climate change has hardly been mentioned by any of these candidates. Nor has the media asked much about it.
            How, I wonder, do these candidates expect to attract new business to Norfolk without a comprehensive plan, which does not now exist, on how to mitigate this basic threat to the city’s very existence?
            Perhaps it’s an Alice-in-Wonderland election. Perhaps the competing emperors have no clothes.
            But on the outside chance it’s serious, my curiosity is peaked. Who will we, the people of Norfolk, elect to lead us? How will my fellow citizens in this, my adopted city, vote?


At 10:56 PM , Blogger Tom Ellis said...

Although I live in Hampton, I have vaguely followed the candidates in Norfolk, and am underwhelmed by the lot of them--they are all mouthing the usual platitudes about "growth" and attracting new business to Norfolk, without once considering the obvious fact that the ship they are on is slowly sinking!

At 11:50 PM , Blogger sydney shenk kissinger said...

It's another catch 22. How do you fix the basic problem without global cooperation about something that seems out of our control? A new paradigm is in the wings waiting to be created!


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