Virginia Beach City Council Endorsements: Princess Anne, Centerville and Lynnhaven Districts
PRINCESS ANNE DISTRICT
On Tuesday we traveled back in time to 1982. Let’s go back even farther today. To 1978.
Forty years ago Jimmy Carter was president. There was a deep recession. People needed to laugh. And they did. At the quirky Woody Allen film, “Annie Hall,” which was named best picture of the year.
Gas was 63 cents a gallon. Interest rates closed the year at 11.75% and the Dow topped out at 805.
For Catholics it was the Year of Three Popes. Pope Paul VI died and was replaced by Pope John Paul, who also died 33 days later. Pope John Paul II took his place.
While the cardinals were busy picking popes, Virginia Beach voters picked farmer Barbara Henley to represent the Princess Anne District.
And there she’s sat for 36 years. Henley was off council from 2002 to 2006.
Although Mrs. Henley occasionally demonstrates some independence - she opposed the arena deal, for instance - she’s been a reliable vote with the majority including on the wildly unpopular proposal to extend light rail to Virginia Beach.
If Henley had her way, we’d be coughing up nearly $100 million a mile for a train linking Newtown Road to Town Center and carrying precious few passengers.
Proof, if any was needed, that Henley’s been on council too long. Of course, with two challengers splitting the anti-Henley vote she could win another term.
Like the Beach district where John Uhrin - a bucket boy for developers - has two opponents, voters will need to coalesce behind one to topple the incumbent.
My choice: Tim Worst.
He’s not a politician. He’s a plain-speaking man who expressed public disbelief at the City Council meeting in August where Councilman Jim Wood voted to put HIS MOTHER on the Virginia Beach Development Authority.
Worst vowed to ask state legislators to outlaw such nepotism.
This driver for an auto parts company and Beach schools said he’d support sacking the city manager. Given Dave Hansen’s record of back channeling with a developer and threatening to punch Virginia’s secretary of transportation after he refused to knuckle under to frivolous demands from Virginia Beach, it’s time for City Council to seriously discuss what to do about this highly paid loose cannon.
When Bobby Dyer announced last spring that he was running for mayor, the seat he occupied since 2004 opened.
There are three candidates vying to replace him. The best choice is Eric Wray.
Eric’s one of the good government candidates. He ran unsuccessfully for School Board in the past, but seems positioned as the frontrunner this time. He’s a smart man and a collegial guy who has said he’ll pursue regionalism, but not unelected regional bodies.
Since there seems to be an unwritten rule in these parts that a funeral director must be a member of every city’s council, Eric could replace Louis Jones in the mortician’s seat if Brad Martin is successful in picking off Jones in Bayside.
This is a tough one. Jim Wood, like Henley and Uhrin, is blessed with two opponents. One seemed to self-destruct recently. The other is an unknown.
Chances are Wood will be re-elected. He’s an affable guy, active in an array of civic endeavors. Unfortunately, Wood votes in lockstep with the majority on council. Because of that, he bears some of the blame for the culture of cronyism that many of us - including the governor - believe is hurting the city.
Like so many of his pals on council, Wood seems content to adhere to minimum standards regarding conflicts of interest.
Exhibit A: On August 21 Wood voted for his own mother’s reappointment to the Virginia Beach Development Authority after the city attorney said there was no state law prohibiting him from doing so.
Here’s a thought, Councilman: If you have to ask if you have a conflict of interest, you probably have one. Hiding behind Virginia’s laughably lax ethics laws as a license to appoint family members to powerful positions is not a good look.
There’s no law that prohibits public officials from holding themselves to a higher standard.
Shoot, even the Virginian-Pilot’s editorial board, cheerleaders for Virginia Beach’s status quo, called Wood’s vote a “misstep.”
John Moss used stronger language on his Facebook page:
“Nepotism is a political disease that undermines the integrity of government and a practice that invites corruption. It is time for us as voters to act.”
According to a story in The Virginian-Pilot, one of Wood’s opponents, Mike Maskell, was recently discovered to have used raunchy language to describe sex acts and genitals in a Facebook post. No one with any sense puts that sort of garbage on the internet.
Not going to repeat what Maskell wrote. Not voting for him either.
My protest vote is going to the underfunded political neophyte Susanne Henderson.