Virginia Beach City Council Endorsements: Bayside District
It was an interesting year. A long time ago, of course.
Ronald Reagan was president.
“Chariots of Fire” won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. Michael Jackson released his “Thriller” album.
Gas was 91 cents a gallon. Interest rates set by the fed were at 11.50 percent. And the Dow surged to its highest point in history: 1,065.
Bear Bryant coached his last college football game. Joe Montana was named Super Bowl MVP after his 49ers beat the Bengals.
Oh, and 46-year-old Louis Jones was elected to his first term on Virginia Beach City Council.
Yep, the funeral director from Bayside has been on council for 36 years - he’s currently filling in as mayor after Will Sessoms quit halfway through his term - and can boast of many accomplishments. The completion of the Lake Gaston pipeline chief among them.
The citizens of Virginia Beach should be grateful for his many, many, many, many years of service.
But good Lord, almost four decades at City Hall is enough. More than enough. Seats on City Council should never become permanently affixed to the derrieres of politicians.
While Jones, 82, is known to occasionally broker compromises between the good government minority and the establishment majority on City Council, he almost always votes with the latter. Although he hasn’t been accused of taking an active part in the cronyism that pollutes the city, he hasn’t exercised any apparent leadership to crush it, either.
It’s time to give someone else a chance.
Enter Brad Martin.
This 48-year-old civil engineer spent a year on City Council in 2014, after At-Large member Bill DeSteph was elected to the House of Delegates.
Martin was defeated in the next election and is running this time from his home district, Bayside.
The candidate told me this week that he learned a lot during his short time at City Hall. He said he realized that he can juggle his family, his job as a civil engineer and his duties on City Council.
“It’s not just a Tuesday afternoon job,” he noted.
It’s Martin’s engineering background that makes him an attractive candidate this year when flooding is a top priority with voters.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have at least one member of City Council with a real understanding of storm water management and flooding?
The city is currently spending millions on sea-level rise and flooding studies. Martin worries that these multi-year reports can “breed complacency” and cause delays while neighborhoods remain soggy and flood-prone.
Martin told me that some problems can be addressed quickly by simply visiting civic leagues and asking residents to show on a map where flooding is most severe. Once those trouble spots are identified, there are mitigating actions that can be taken even before the studies are complete.
Speaking of studies, someone with Martin’s expertise might also be in a position to judge the value of consultants and experts hired to look at the city’s stormwater problems.
In that respect, he’d be a valuable resource for taxpayers.
Martin is smart. Plus, he brings a much-needed skill set to the city. Voters seem eager for a change on City Council and Bayside is a good place to start.