PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- A new but familiar person is now in charge of the Portsmouth City council. On Friday the city clerk swore in John Rowe as mayor.
“Portsmouth has now officially turned the corner,” says Portsmouth resident, Charles Greenhood. “We're very excited, very very excited.”
The former city manager beat Kenny Wright in the November election with 51% of the vote.
“It's a new day in Portsmouth,” Rowe said after he was sworn in.
His top priority he says is to bring back civility amongst council members and council members with the public.
“This will be a council that welcomes engagement, will welcome citizens input and will embrace it,” Rowe says.
It's a welcome change says re-elected council member Elizabeth Psimas, who will serve her fourth term.
“These last two years we've been treading water, nothing's happened,” Psimas says.
Rowe says that won't happen while he's in office and wants this city council to meet twice as often as the previous council.
“I want the seven of us to be breathless,” he says. “To be gasping for air at the speed and the amount of work that we did in the first six months of 2017.”
Their work begins during next week's first formal council session Psimas says when they will vote on policy changes, “which has never been done before in my memory.”
They'll then work more on getting to know each other better during a council retreat in February.
“We're going to learn how to work together in that first month,” Psimas says.
That means learning how to work with new council members, Nathan Clark and Lisa Lucas-Burke. They’re also otherwise known she says as the other members of her and Rowe's “dream team.”
Clark who is a Virginia Marine police officer says he wants to hear from Portsmouth residents.
“Please feel free to contact me at any time and I will be happy to listen to anyone,” he says.
Lucas-Burke is chairwoman of the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority.
“I have a passion for Portsmouth and I think that I'm one of the people that the team needs to move us forward,” she says.
The team also includes council members Mark Whitaker and Paige Cherry who voted to fire Rowe last year when he was city manager. Rowe says he doesn’t hold it against them.
“We're better than that and we're going to move forward as a united team,” Rowe says.
The next Portsmouth City Council meeting will take place on January 3rd.