Prior to the November 4th election, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Lefcoe Alumni Association hosted a Portsmouth City Council Forum at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame at 6 pm on October 15, 2014.The Forum gave residents and the business community the opportunity to hear the candidates discuss their ideas and platforms and respond to questions. A reception was held at 5 pm prior to the forum. The forum was moderated by Joel Rubin of Rubin Communications.
On November 4 there are 3 open seats on the council that the candidates are running for. Candidates participating in the forum included: Paige D Cherry, Nathan J. Clark, William E. “Bill” Moody Jr., Donna Biggs Sayegh, and Gary Waters. The forum covered topics such as the candidates’ priorities, increasing tunnel tolls, bringing casino gaming to the city, and the proposal of moving inmates from the city jail to the regional jail.
When asked about his priorities if elected to council, candidate Nathan Clark made it clear that public safety, education and economic development were his top three, stating, “The way I look at those is they’re all equal, it’s like there’s three spokes in a wheel and without one spoke the wheels going to fall.”
Candidate Bill Moody had a different take, choosing the school system, crime rate and quality of life as his hot topics and relating them to the, “aspects that people look for when choosing to move to a city.”
On the subject of tunnel tolls, Paige Cherry said, “We need to make Portsmouth a destination. Let’s give people a reason to come here, because if there is nothing on the other side of that tunnel that people want to see then they’re not going to want to pay the toll.”
Donna Sayegh believes the tolls are here and that the communities, “major concern should be the Hampton Roads Transit Accountability Commission” and the way they are handling projects throughout the city.
Regarding casino gambling, candidate Gary Waters was clearly opposed to the idea, saying that “Portsmouth has too many low income people, if they have gambling in Portsmouth they would spend every penny they had trying to hit the big one.”
Earnhart Spencer Chair of the Portsmouth Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce said "It is important that the community have the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates, especially in local elections, which get a lot less press and coverage than State and National races. It allows voters to make an informed decision on who will represent them for the next four years."
The Hampton Roads Chamber continues to support and advocate for businesses in Hampton Roads for regional economic growth, member success, and enhancement of the quality of life. The Chamber provides access to decision makers and hosts events on business issues that impact the business community. The Chamber encourages the community to vote on November 4.