NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The three candidates vying to be the city’s next mayor are zeroing in on their priorities about a month away from Election Day.
Kenny Alexander, Bob McCabe, and Andy Protogyrou spoke Wednesday afternoon at the Virginia Club, which is a group made up primarily of lawyers and financial professionals. Each candidates had 10 minutes to speak.
All three vowed to spend time and resources on reducing crime, increasing the city’s tax base through development and improving education.
“Dedication, commitment and opportunities allowed me to be standing here today,” said State Senator Kenny Alexander, who previously served on Norfolk’s economic development authority.
“I’m one of those people known to follow through on things,” said Sheriff McCabe, who’s served in the position for 22 years.
“I’ve been at the table,” said Protogyrou. “I don’t need on-the-job training.”
Protogyrou, a lawyer who’s served on council since 2010, says at a time when the city is focused on attracting millennials to the area they can’t forget about the city’s children enrolled in under-performing schools.
“I do believe the future is in after school programs,” he said. “I do believe the future is in pre-k and making it as universal as possible so children are ready for school.”
Norfolk police say there’s been 30 or more homicides each year over the last three years. McCabe says his decades in law enforcement are the experience the city needs to fix the problem.
“We have to make sure our police department has everything they need to combat the crime, because drug dealers are not shooting drug dealers anymore. They’re shooting grandmothers holding their kids on porches.”
Alenxander says he’s ready to leave Richmond for Norfolk, where he feels he can make a bigger impact. He tells WAVY.com he wants to bring in new development, but he believes bringing new people and businesses here will only happen after quality of life issues are resolved.
“When we market Norfolk, sell Norfolk, they pull the crime stats. They pull the graduation rates,” said Alexander. “It hurts our image. It hurts our quality life.”
Parking in and around the downtown district is one of the issues the candidates disagreed on.
McCabe says he is advocating for the city to start a one-year pilot program offering drivers free parking in the garages. He says it would fuel more tax revenue from an increase of people who come to shop or eat.
Protogyro and Alexander say they like the idea, but they believe it’s in the city’s best interest to collect the parking fees to pay off city debt accrued from the cost of building the parking garages.
Election Day is May 3.