Will Sessoms declares victory in Virginia Beach mayoral race

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Mayor Will Sessoms has declared victory in the Virginia Beach mayoral race.

At a watch party Tuesday night, Sessoms touted his economic successes for helping him secure a third term. He also called the race the ‘toughest’ and ‘nastiest’ of his political career.

As of 10:20 p.m. Tuesday Sessoms had 53.71 percent of the vote. His nearest opponent was Kowalewitch who had 20.29 percent. 156,134 ballots had been cast.

Sessoms was up against a familiar foe: Richard “RK” Kowalewitch, a local businessman. In 2012, Sessoms had 70 percent of the vote to Kowalewitch’s 19 percent.

Both candidates were out at polling places all day Tuesday.

In his victory speech, Sessoms touted the city’s economic growth, saying that during the recession, tourism revenue increased. He also asked supporters to “hang in there” when it comes to defense spending, seemingly acknowledging that it is down in the city. Sessoms then gave a glimpse of what items may be of importance to him in the coming four years.

“We must expand the economy in this city, and in this region and I look forward to being successful in biomed, cyber security. Get out of our way folks. Don’t let anybody tell us what we can’t do. Let’s talk about what we can do, and get it done.”

Sessoms told WAVY News he put a lot of thought into running again this year, and had several big endorsements from first responders and teacher groups.

On the Ballot: Virginia Beach Mayor

In this election, Kowalewitch was running on a platform of ‘stopping corruption’ — an obvious dig at Mayor Sessoms, who pleaded no contest last year on a conflict of interest charge in 2015. Investigators said he voted on city council matters that directly benefited TowneBank, while he was also a president  of the bank. He resigned from the bank in 2014.