The Hampton Roads Chamber hosted a City Council and Mayoral Candidates Forum in the city of Suffolk on October 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront Hotel & Conference Center. Mayoral candidates included Leroy Bennett, Arthur Bredemeyer and incumbent Linda Johnson. Candidates for City Council in the Sleepy Hole Borough included Kevin Alston, Raymond Batton III and Roger Fawcett, as well as Robert Barclay IV for the Nansemond Borough. Candidates answered questions on topics such as economic development, school funding, waste disposal fees, and government transparency.
Johnson, who has served for six years as the city’s mayor, said she is running to continue the success of Suffolk, saying, “I believe in Suffolk.” Challengers Bennett and Bredemeyer disagree with the creation of a new $17.50 monthly fee for trash and recycling services. Johnson defended the fee, explaining that it was put in place because of a state mandate to recycle at least a quarter of the city’s waste and the near-demise of the Southeastern Public Service Authority three years ago. Bennett and Bredemeyer also expressed that there is waste in the city’s budget, mentioning city staff postions. Johnson explained to those in attendance that the city is “more open and transparent than it’s ever been.”
Kevin Alston expressed frustration with the budget and would focus on high schools being fully accredited. Raymond Batton III is a business owner in Suffolk and expressed he is ready to give back to the community. Roger Fawcett said he wants to promote growth in Suffolk and he would listen and accept feedback from the community. Barclay told the crowd that he is focused on jobs and economic development, public safety and public education.
The Chamber encourages residents to vote in the November 6 election.