On April 15, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, and League of Women Voters presented the Norfolk Candidates Forum at Granby High School from 7-8:30pm. The Forum included candidates for two separate races, Ward 5 City Council and the mayor seat. The Ward 5 City Council race consisted of two candidates, incumbent Tommy Smigiel and challenger Jim Driggers. The Mayoral candidates present were Jane Bethel, a former city employee, and Michael Muhammad, a local activist. Mayor Paul Fraim did not attend, citing personal matters out of state.
The forum focused on four main issues that included: education, transportation, crime and sea level rise. When Michael Muhammad was asked what area of the city was most neglected, he said, “Everywhere but downtown,” referencing the $126 million Hilton Hotel that is being built, $89 million of which is public money. Muhammad instead suggested that this money should be spread out around Norfolk to places that are more in need.
When the City Council hopefuls got a chance to speak they did not mince words. In Jim Drigger’s closing remarks he made a jab at Tommy Smigiel saying, “I know how to work as part of a team.” Smigiel was obviously displeased with this remark, stating, “I’ve been called a lot of names…but one thing I resent is being called ineffective.”
The heated exchange between the two capped off an exciting night at Granby High School. The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and League of Women Voters will host the second Political Forum for Norfolk City Council for Ward 3 and 4 on April 17 at Booker T. Washington High School at 7pm.
The Chamber is an advocate for the business community in local and state government and works closely with elected officials to create economic prosperity and enhance the quality of life by helping members gain access to potential decision makers and to get involved in business issues that impact the business community. The Chamber urges you to get out and vote on May 6.