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Newport News Mayor McKinley Price delivers his final State of the City address

A new look to city council is on the horizon in Newport News, but not before longtime Mayor McKinley Price could offer some last remarks.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Newport News is in store for some big changes to its city council come the new year. 

Not only will three new members join council, but a new mayor will also take the helm. 

Outgoing and longtime mayor Dr. McKinley Price gave his final State of the City address at Ferguson Center for the Arts on the campus of Christopher Newport University.  

Price, a dentist by trade, takes pride in his 12 years in office as mayor in the city he grew up in. His speech before constituents Wednesday night centered around the theme "Our Stage is Set."

"Serving as mayor of Newport News is one of the greatest honors of my life," said McKinley, while holding back his tears. 

Price highlighted efforts to curb crime and investments in the city's youth among his most important work during his 12 years as mayor.

"In Newport News, our young people have a collection of believers all committed to their success," said Price.

The city has poured in more than $9 million toward youth and gang violence prevention. And just weeks ago, Price helped to break ground on the Newport News Early Childhood Center in Southeast. 

RELATED: Newport News Early Childhood Center aims to offer affordable pre-K, training for future teachers

Part of Price's remarks included a look back at the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"And when vaccine hesitancy grew, especially in the African-American community, I volunteered to give shots during clinics in the Southeast community," he said. 

He also touted so-called "business breakthroughs" happening citywide, which falls in line with new messaging from the city entitled "Built on Breakthroughs."

"Our area in which we are seeing significant growth is the maritime and shipbuilding industries," Price said in part. 

And when 13News Now asked what his greatest accomplishment is as mayor, he had this to say: "What we're going for the city now, I think, as far as its growth, its foundation for us to continue to go forward." 

Moreover, Price said he is eager for new faces on council — including his successor — to keep the momentum going. 

"I hope they will continue on the path of growth, business opportunity. We have a lot of people who are homeless. We have a lot of public housing that needs to be addressed. We're transforming the city, and we have something going on in all three districts," he said. 

Price was the first Black mayor directly elected in Newport News. And at 33 years old, Mayor-elect Phillip Jones is the city's youngest Black mayor elected in the role.

Jones, a Marine Corps veteran and businessman, is among the changes forthcoming in city leadership. 

"It's always hard to follow two great men, Mayor Joe Frank and Mayor Price. I'm really excited to have new council members, while concurrently still leaning on the experience of those that came before. I'm really excited about the future. We have a lot of new energy in Newport News," Jones told reporters Wednesday night.

RELATED: Newly elected leaders hope to infuse fresh ideas for Newport News City Council

Voters also tapped three men to serve as the newest council members in Newport News. 

"We're going to push it to the next level. I think a lot of people voted for that, voted for change, some new ideas, fresh ideas," said Cleon Long, who also called crime prevention and housing supply as issues top of mind. 

For Curtis Bethany III, improvements in the Denbigh area will be a focus. He also touched on his excitement for what's ahead, "just building off of that legacy, and not forgetting who came before us."

Current school board member John Eley III will transition to a council member role. He identified the following as some of his top priorities. "Making sure that our youth have the opportunities they need to thrive, as well as businesses."

Across the water, election results reflect a similar infusion of fresh and, in some cases, young blood on council. 

In the smallest city of the Seven Cities, voters in Portsmouth ousted two incumbents: Paul Battle and Christopher Woodard, Jr.

RELATED: Several candidates poised to shake up Virginia Beach City Council

And in Virginia Beach, where a new voting-by-district system took effect, political newcomers edged out two incumbents. One of them, John Moss, served on council for nearly two decades.  

Back with Price, he said he looks forward to a life outside of politics, spending more time with his family and continuing his work at his dental practice.

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