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Election 2020: Meet the candidates running for Mayor of Portsmouth

Six candidates are vying for the position, and their visions are varied on the future of the city... including whether or not it should have a casino.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The people of Portsmouth have six candidates to choose from for their next mayor.

It’s a shakeup after a lot has happened in the City of Portsmouth in this election year, and a lot of it hasn’t been good. There was the protest at the Confederate monument that ended with a statue falling on a demonstrator, and the big shakeup in city leadership. 

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These are the candidates running for the seat:

  • Councilmember Paul Battle
  • Councilmember Shannon Glover 
  • Anthony Goodwin
  • Danny Meeks   
  • Cliff Page
  • Donna Sayegh

 Paul Battle won his seat on city council in 2018. He’s focused on health and safety, education, economic development, and adding more recreational services with no tax increases.

Battle explained, “You can count on me to be honest, you can count on me to bring the public into the major issues just as I’ve done in the past time.” 

Shannon Glover was elected to council the same year as Battle. He said he wants to lead the city in a bold new direction focusing on education, public health and safety, business and workforce development, and infrastructure.

“One of the things that is critically important to me is to begin to restore the trust and build relationships and bring people together,” Glover explained.

If former Olde Towne Business Association President Anthony Goodwin is elected, he plans to focus on infrastructure and economic development, health and safety, and tourism. 

“Portsmouth has to be able to participate, be competitive, and also everyone has to be respectful of each other,” Goodwin explained. 

When 13News Now asked Danny Meeks about his goals if he wins, they included maintaining the bond rating, supporting the schools and police, and also creating a technology zone to bring more jobs to the area.

Meeks said, “I do have a big vision. Those who say it can’t happen, it can happen. We need the right leadership. We need someone who understands finances, not a bunch of lip service. The citizens of Portsmouth are due. 

Cliff Page wants to focus on eliminating the tunnel tolls, putting the Confederate monument back up, and making sure a casino doesn’t come to the city. 

“As an artist, I’m always looking for a vision, and I see Portsmouth as a donut and not as a hole. I see it as a sow’s ear that can turn into a silver purse,” Page explained. 

The only woman running, Donna Sayegh wants to concentrate on communication and having an open-door policy for everyone who calls Portsmouth home.

Sayegh said, “I want to bring the people’s voices back to the city by having them at the table.”

Although each candidate has different priorities, there are common themes including open communication, transparency, and making Portsmouth a better place. It’s up to people to decide who is the best fit to make sure Portsmouth is known for more good things than bad.

On the ballot this year in Portsmouth, voters will decide if they want a casino in the city. We asked all six candidates their opinions on the entertainment district.

Anthony Goodwin, Donna Sayegh, and Cliff Page say no way on a casino.

“As a real estate guy, I’m all about location, location, and location. I firmly believe the location is not good for us and coming out of a major economic recess, a lot of folks are trying to make things meet and bring things back together,” Goodwin explained.

Sayegh said the land where a developer wants to build should be used for farming, not gambling. She said a casino is the wrong choice for Portsmouth.

“It’s an addiction quality and to promote gambling to me is just not the right thing to do,” Sayegh said. 

Page said he’ll make sure a casino doesn’t make its way into the city.  

“I’ve lived in Portsmouth, East Coast, West Coast all over the world. We got a mafia around here,” Page said. "I don’t want to see mafia washing money through a casino and that ended up in the council’s hands.”   

While those three candidates don’t want people playing poker or anything like it in Portsmouth, the other three candidates see a casino as a way to make money and bring jobs to the area.

Councilman Paul Battle already has an idea of what to do with the money.  

“We are going to get the funding we get from the casino to purchase the tunnels and then we can relieve the stress on our citizens by not charging $5 one way, but $1 one way,” Battle said. 

Councilman Shannon Glover is all for growing the city and believes that happens by attracting and retain more businesses.

“We need to bring tax revenue to the city of Portsmouth and the proposed entertainment district, which is certainly up for referendum, will be a positive thing,” Glover said.

Danny Meeks is saying “Yes” to a casino, but he recognizes there are problems that could come with it. For that reason – before the gambling begins – he wants to see more support services in place.

He explained, “When you have a casino, you have drug addiction, sex trafficking, human trafficking, gambling addictions all of that comes. We need to hire more people in social service before this casino comes.”

When it comes to November 3rd, it’s up to you to decide what choice is best when it comes to your next mayor and if a casino should call your city home.