Virginia Beach City Council Endorsements: At Large
After decades of railing against cronyism and influence peddling in Virginia Beach, after watching a handful of power brokers buy their own bucket boys on council, after watching the Virginia Beach Development Authority turn into a gang of shameless profiteers, and after watching some sectors of the media support this stunningly corrupt enterprise, I’m going to tell you who has my vote on Nov. 6.
Want good government again? Vote with me.
City Council elections are non-partisan. As they should be. This is not a right-left election, a conservative vs. liberal vote. This is all about candidates who want to do the right thing, for the right reasons.
Together we can render useless the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have poured into the coffers of the status quo candidates who are propped up by local plutocrats.
It’s time for Beach voters to demand that politicians get their priorities straight, that they fix flooding and that they keep the city affordable for everyone. For our police officers, teachers, deputies and firefighters. For the people who drive our school buses, for the folks who care for the elderly and who work in daycare centers.
Eight seats are up this year. Eight of 11. This is our chance. We can change Virginia Beach for the better. Make it a city that really is open for business. A place where the people in Aragona Village, Pungo, Green Run, Seatack and Windsor Woods can get the attention of City Hall as easily as the inhabitants of Croatan, Bay Colony and the North End, where I live.
Today we’re going to talk about the At-Large race where six candidates are competing for two seats.
My choices are incumbent John Moss and political newcomer Aaron Rouse.
When John was elected to council, the collective IQ of that body jumped by triple digits.
He’s smart. He’s analytical. He drives the good ol’ boys crazy because he actually understands budgeting.
Yep, he’s a policy and numbers wonk. He peppers city staff with questions that other council members don’t know enough to ask.
John cares about the little guy. The cashier working two jobs at the supermarket who can’t afford the constant fee and tax hikes imposed by out-of-touch politicians, the people who live in flooded neighborhoods and have to put their belongings on their lawns to dry out after heavy rains.
He understands the meaning of the word “priority.” This past spring he was one of the architects of the no-tax-hike budget compromise. You can thank him by sending him back for another term.
John’s a Boy Scout. Literally. He doesn’t spend his vacation carousing with the local money men. Moss is on campouts with the kids.
John Moss runs his campaign the way he wants the city to run: ethically and frugally. He’s a grassroots guy.
“I’m not one who goes out and panhandles a lot of money,” Moss told me Sunday afternoon.
“I got elected last time on less than $40,000. You can’t raise the kind of money some of these other candidates are raising without creating compromises and I refuse to put myself in a compromising position. "
Big money wants Moss out. Make no mistake. We need him. Now more than ever.
If Aaron Rouse could shake the hand of every voter in Virginia Beach, he’d win this election with 99 percent of the vote.
He’s smart, engaging and earnest.
OK, and a former NFL player. He played for the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron didn’t have to come back to Virginia Beach when he retired from football. He came because this is home.
He’s the only candidate running in any race who was born in Norfolk’s Young Terrace and who moved to the low-income Friendship Village as a child. He went to Birdneck Elementary, Lynnhaven Middle School and First Colonial High School. Then he headed to Virginia Tech on a football scholarship.
The teenaged Aaron worked an astonishing array of jobs as he helped his mom and his three siblings. It’s safe to say he’s the only candidate who can run a backhoe and run down a wide receiver.
Aaron Rouse is the sort of elected official Virginia Beach needs right now. A young councilman - he’s 34 - with fresh ideas and a unique perspective. He talks a lot about “servant” leadership, about giving back to the city that he loves.
“This city is underperforming,” he told me last week. “because we keep doing things the same way.”
Rouse wants to end favoritism at City Hall and bring diverse factions together. He says he wants to make sure everyone gets a “fair shake” from local government.
He also knows what it’s like to be a member of a working family living paycheck to paycheck. We need someone with that sort of empathy on City Council. We’re awash in the landed gentry.
At a fundraiser earlier this month Gov. Ralph Northam endorsed Aaron - the only candidate he’s supporting in the local elections - saying he’d be a “breath of fresh air” at City Hall. The governor added that it was time for Virginia Beach to put an end to cronyism.
What some don’t know is that another former governor, Bob McDonnell, was at the same event. When was the last time a Republican governor and a Democrat turned out for the same candidate?
Virginia Beach elites are afraid of Aaron. He’s promised a level playing field for businesses. He’s also promised to open the doors of the city to everyone.
I hope you get a chance to meet the dynamic Aaron Rouse. He’ll be a game changer for Virginia Beach.