Portsmouth Mayoral race heats up

13News Now Jemie Lee has the story

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) - With just 11 days until Election Day, the race for mayor in Portsmouth is heating up. The incumbent, Kenny Wright, is facing five opponents.

“I’m probably one of the most visible mayors in Hampton Roads. I stay out in the streets, in churches, in civic league meetings, because I want to hear that feedback,” he said.

Wright told 13News Now the City of Portsmouth is in a much better place than it was six years ago.

“We've got a strong AA credit rating. Our finances were in a mess when we got here in 2010. We’ve got $160 mil worth of private money being invested in the city of Portsmouth. That hasn’t happened in 30 years,” he said. 

Moving forward he says he wants to focus on improving quality of life for citizens.

“We've got 36 percent of our children are in poverty. That's a travesty. We've got to be able to do things to improve the quality of life of those young people as well as our seniors.”

Opponent John Rowe says he wants to focus on building a school system that is fully accredited. But his first priority is tackling the political turmoil between city leaders. He says bringing back civility and trust begins with getting rid of Kenny Wright.

“Kenny hasn't done anything to build back that trust. It comes with being transparent. It comes with opening up meetings. It comes with talking to news media. He's talking to media now because we're 12 days away from the election,” Rowe said.

Candidate Barry Randall is criticizing Wright for not being more visible in the community--blasting him for not visiting the residents of Swanson homes.

“They were looking for the mayor. I went to City Hall and I asked Mayor Kenny Wright on several occasions to come out and see what's going on in Swanson. He wouldn’t even leave his comfort zone to go out to Swanson home to see what those people are facing,” he said.

Randall says he wants to focus on helping the homeless population, and reducing crime-- but change must begin with a new leader.

“He’s equated John Rowe to Donald Trump. He's name called. He's called myself the devil. He's just acting really immature to be a city mayor,” he said.

Wright says he's not going to get sidetracked by drama. He says he knows he has a lot of support and November 8 will be proof.

“I did not come here to focus on the drama or respond to whether Ms. Elizabeth Psimas or the Sheriff and all those people-- if you look at our history, those same characters have been doing this type of stuff way before I got here. So it's not about me. It's not about Kenny Wright. It's about people not wanting to do what's good for the greater good,” Wright said.

The three other candidates include James Sturdevant, Shannon Glover, and Cliff Page Jr.

Sturdevant sent 13News Now this statement when asked about the focus of his campaign: 

“I have consistently addressed the burden of real estate taxes on the citizens of Portsmouth and the fact that the only relief can come from a focused and driven Economic Development program.”


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