NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- With Mayor Paul Fraim not seeking reelection, the 2016 race for mayor is beginning to take shape. Sheriff Bob McCabe announced he was running for office earlier this year. Now City Councilman Andy Protogyrou says he is running for mayor. He sat down with 13News Now and unveiled his vision for the City.
Born and raised in Norfolk, Andy Protogyrou's dreams of leading the city he so dearly loves came to life last Thursday. Mayor Paul Fraim announced it is time for the younger generation to step in.
"When you plan for the future, you have to be planning for the millennials-- everything we do planning now for the City is 10 and 20 years out," Protogyrou said.
His vision for Norfolk begins with attracting businesses.
"I have a vision for tomorrow. The City is open for business, and that's going to be it. We're open for business, and the only way to push forward is to connect the businesses with the schools and then with the cities around us. So if we look at that being the theme, then there's no way that Norfolk stays behind," he said.
Strengthening Norfolk's schools is a top priority. He says that can be accomplished by empowering principals and bringing businesses into the classroom.
"It's going to be giving the principals all that they need to make things happen. By doing the career technical school and perhaps even opening it to cities around us, if you make it hip you make people vested in the City. Then people will want to be here," he said.
He also wants to capitalize on the port and extend light rail to the naval base.
"We have a port here that's one of the top rated ports in the country, and we can do more. Nothing will happen to light rail if we don't get it to the naval base in the future," he said.
All this he understands has to be done by collaborating and compromising with our neighboring cities.
"Day one, we're going to get dates to meet with the Beach, day two we'll meet with Chesapeake, day three we'll meet with Portsmouth. Have the Beach Economic Development Office give us a presentation. And when they're done, I can look them in the eye and say, 'what do you need us to do?' That's where it's going to start, and if we start by communicating on the economic development level, then everything else will fall in line," he said.
Protogyrou has a tough race ahead of him, with Sheriff Bob McCabe announcing his candidacy in July. But with the backing of several city leaders, Protogyrou is confident he will win.
"Bobby is a great guy, but Bobby doesn't have elected officials like I do. I have half the city council, who've asked me to run and are supporting me. I have George Schaefer, the clerk of the court; Evans Poston, who is the commissioner of revenue, both supporting me. That's a lot of support when it comes to asking somebody to be mayor, and I've grabbed that mantle and I'm running with it," he said.
Making Norfolk a scholarly epicenter for sea level rise and flood mitigation is also a goal--bringing Norfolk's colleges together and sponsoring a yearly conference.
"We are the cutting edge now when it comes to flooding and sea level rise. That is a vision that I can see into the future. We'll put all our universities together, the City will back it, every year we'll have that conference," he said.
Protogyrou has yet to file his paperwork for his run for mayor. He says right now he's working on organizing his campaign. He plans on making a formal announcement with all of his supporters before the November election.
The longtime attorney resides in Norfolk with his wife Kathy. They met at a Greek convention in the summer of 1984, and have been together ever since. Both of their children attend the Virginia Military Institute, Protogyrou's alma mater. In his free time, he enjoys playing and watching soccer.