Norfolk Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire Responses

The Suburban [The Suburban Acres Civic League Newsletter] sent a questionnaire to each candidate for Mayor in early March; the same five questions, focusing on neighborhood initiatives, quality of life, and schools, were sent to each of the four candidates [Ryan Cooper, Paul Fraim, Daun Hester, and Dan Montague]. We’ve provided the verbatim answers of the candidates who responded, as well as basic profiles and how to find their campaign web sites.

Ryan Cooper, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Ryan Cooper, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Ryan Cooper

Full time student at ODU; Virginia licensed annuities and life insurance professional

No civic/governmental experience; first time run for elected office

Lives in Park Place

Contact his campaign at CSNinfo2010@yahoo.com

Virginia and most of its municipalities including Norfolk are experiencing severe budget constraints with shortfalls predicted for the 2011 fiscal year. In prioritizing expenditures to balance Norfolk’s budget for the upcoming year, which NEIGHBORHOOD PROGRAMS do you consider completely safe, “off the table” for reduction or elimination, and which programs likely face reductions or elimination?

I consider most of Norfolk’s neighborhood programs to be com pletely safe or “off the table.” I propose cutting the budget of things that I find to be far less important such as grants for private developers and tourist attractions (Nauticus, etc.). Everyone keeps talking about the economy and how we’re all “broke.” I, for one, am still paying the same amount of taxes that I have been. They haven’t gone down. In fact, they’ve gone up. So why should the city have to cut its spending if the amount of money that’s coming in is increasing? It all doesn’t quite add up, but in the event of budget cuts, I will push for cuts to less vital city projects and a reduction of over spending.

What current project or program would you describe as a “success story” or “extremely valuable” in improving residents’ quality of life and preserving Norfolk neighborhoods?

The civic leagues. Honestly, the civic leagues of the city of Norfolk are the most impressive thing that I have ever seen. Citizens from almost every neighborhood band together to make sure that they’re heard by the city council and all the officials therein. I have never seen anything like the structure and organization that these civic leagues possess – all the way up to the Federation of Civic Leagues! I dare say that the voices of the countless concerned residents go unheard far more than they should. As Norfolk’s most valuable asset, our elected officials need to spend more time listening to what is being said by the people who comprise our civic leagues.

What is your strategy for verifying compliance with state educational testing standards by Norfolk Public Schools?

The VSOL (Virginia Standards of Learning) tests are mandatory in all Virginia public schools. If these tests aren’t being taken by students in the Norfolk public school system, then we have far more drastic problems than I originally realized. If any state educational testing standards are not being complied with by any Norfolk public school, drastic action needs to be taken against the management of that school. I have not heard of any specific cases of this, but if I do, I will speak on that then.

Are the current structure, information flow, and accountability among Norfolk Public Schools, the School Board, and City Council adequate? If not, what would you do to improve these areas?

These three things (structure, information flow and accountability) seem to be in order as far as I can tell. I definitely do not want to mess with the structure of any of these organizations – that’s far deeper than I intend to go. Information flow seems to be a very simple process with modern technology. I don’t think it’s necessary to revamp our computer systems. Accountability may be a little bit of an issue. One could argue that people need to start taking responsibility for the detrimental effects that occur after a poor decision is made, but I’ve never been one to point fingers. Instead I urge this city to move on and move up.
What is your plan to maintain and improve the quality of Norfolk neighborhoods and reverse decline in those neighborhoods that are deteriorating?

Cops. Police. Law dogs. Enforcers. What ever you want to call them, I want to hire them. I come from a bad neighborhood and I know what it’s like to live in a ghetto. There’s no way to find and catch the person who broke into your car. Not even the person that broke into your house in most cases. But no one is going to commit a crime in front of a cop. So if we put cops on the streets, the criminals will leave the streets, and the quality of life on the streets will improve drastically. Furthermore, I want to massively increase the funding to our public schools. If our children are properly educated then instead of breaking into cars they’ll go to college and be far more successful than the drug
dealers I see on my street corner. The youngsters only aspire the expectations that we set for them. If we are providing the children with a poor education, with no investment in their future, what can we say that we are truly expecting from them? Not much. And that’s what we’ll get in return.

Paul Fraim, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Paul Fraim, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Paul Fraim (incumbent)

President, law firm of Fraim and Fiorella, PC. Chairman of Norfolk Board of TowneBank Board of Directors

Member Norfolk City Council since 1986; Mayor since 1994; Norfolk’s first elected Mayor

Lives in Larchmont

More on his campaign at www.fraimformayor.com

Virginia and most of its municipalities including Norfolk are experiencing severe budget constraints with shortfalls predicted for the 2011 fiscal year. In prioritizing expenditures to balance Norfolk’s budget for the upcoming year, which NEIGHBORHOOD PROGRAMS do you consider completely safe, “off the table” for reduction or elimination, and which programs likely face reductions or elimination?

With declining local revenues and massive state cuts to education, public safety and social services, all department budgets and programs must be “on the table.”  We will do everything possible to balance neighborhood priorities with available resources.

What current project or program would you describe as a “success story” or “extremely valuable” in improving residents’ quality of life and preserving Norfolk neighborhoods?

Lower tax burden, steady reduction in crime, successful purchase and renovation of the Wellness Center, new recreation centers, re-built library system, more resources for street repairs and re-paving, neighborhood revitalization efforts.

What is your strategy for verifying compliance with state educational testing standards by Norfolk Public Schools?

This is the responsibility of the School Board, but the city council must continually reinforce the need for integrity and credibility in the giving of tests.

Are the current structure, information flow, and accountability among Norfolk Public Schools, the School Board, and City Council adequate? If not, what would you do to improve these areas?

I think it is adequate. I meet with the chair, vice-chair, superintendent, and school staff every other month.

What is your plan to maintain and improve the quality of Norfolk neighborhoods and reverse decline in those neighborhoods that are deteriorating?

Continue to invest in neighborhoods. Oakdale Farms and Monticello Village are examples of recent neighborhoods where decline has been reversed.

Daun Hester, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Daun Hester, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Daun Hester (Current Superward 7 Councilwoman)

Co-owner of education/training consulting firm; 22 year career with Norfolk City Schools as educator and administrator

Member Norfolk City Council since 1996

Lives in Ingleside

More on her campaign at www.madammayor.com

Councilwoman Hester did not respond to any of our emails or return a telephone message as of March 29.


Dan Montague, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Dan Montague, Candidate for Mayor of Norfolk

Daniel Montague

Retired construction boilermaker, civic activist

Lives in Estabrook

More on his campaign at www.danformayor2010.info

Mr. Montague called us after receiving his questionnaire and referred us to his web site for information. We explained that we could not objectively answer the survey questions for him using his web site and he agreed to provide us with a response. As of March 29th (publication printing deadline) we received no response to our questions.

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One Response to Norfolk Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire Responses

  1. Susan Ross says:

    Let the Buyer Beware… It seems to me that the candidates that had not bothered to fill out this questionaire while they were still actively trying to get our votes would not be candidates that we could count on after they were elected.

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