CHESAPEAKE, Va. — One of the 757's closely watched races is in Chesapeake. That's where five seats on city council are up for grabs. Thirteen people, including three incumbents, are vying for a position.
During a forum hosted by the Women's Division Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Chesapeake, candidates for Chesapeake City Council touched on a range wide range of topics, including public safety, infrastructure, the local economy and commitment to public service.
Below are just some of the key messages they shared Thursday night. The entire forum will be available to view online on Friday.
Santiera Brown-Yearling, a medical professional, pledged to put people first. She said she is a newcomer in the political arena, but not new to serving her community.
"I have guiding values, such as service-driven leadership, being transparent, meaning what I say and saying what I mean," Brown-Yearling said.
C. Jeff Bunn expressed a desire to serve. He touted prior work in the city's economic development department and parks & recreation.
"With my experience of working with the city, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of bringing businesses to Chesapeake to relieve the tax burden on our citizens," said Bunn.
He also mentioned previously serving multiple roles within the Chesapeake School Board.
Vice Mayor John de Triquet, a U.S. Navy veteran and pediatrician, seeks another term on the dais. He said he has strong principles, which turn into action.
De Triquet boasted his efforts and contributions to limit taxes and fees.
"This year, I was the council member to propose and vote for a four-and-a-half cent decrease in real estate taxes," he said.
Brian Economy, another candidate for city council, said he is focused on public safety and working with others to reach solutions.
"Transparency, we don't only want to do it within the city council, I want to accomplish that with the citizens as well," the retired Navy veteran said.
Candidate N. Baxter Ennis, also a military veteran, served in the Army. He said he continues to serve in other ways, such as being part of the Chesapeake Health Authority.
"I have a proven record as a servant leader. I am a man of faith. I may not know all the answers, but I will listen and I will learn," Ennis said.
Pat King, who currently serves as a school board member in Chesapeake, is a psychiatrist and former teacher. She expressed her desire to lead as part of city council.
King highlighted a track record of reaching across aisles and working through differences.
"I am someone who will show up and I will stand up for you, even when I have to stand alone," King said.
B.D. Knowles stated he is a proud veteran, having served in the Marine Corps. Knowles promised to listen to constituents and work hand in hand, for instance, with the school board.
"I have to always look, go and make a connection to see exactly what the people want, what the budget is saying," he said.
As an attorney, candidate Amanda Newins said she is a newcomer to politics.
Newins identified a listening ear and funding first responders as some of her top priorities if elected.
"It's important now more than that we fund and provide the resources for our public safety, so they can do the job they were trained to do and that's keeping us safe," she said.
13News Now previously reported Newins faces allegations of elder abuse, after a family member of hers filed a lawsuit. A lawyer for Newins called it "baseless" in a statement issued on September 12.
Newins did not want to offer comment, following Thursday night's forum.13News Now emailed her lawyer and campaign requesting a statement, but we haven't heard back yet.
Candidate Les Smith, Jr. told the crowd he is a business owner. He said he wants to take a proactive approach on council if elected, "To bring to the forefront, a new vision, economic prosperity and sound infrastructure."
Smith also mentioned that the strength of Chesapeake is among its diverse people.
Incumbent Susan Vitale vies for re-election. She touted a longtime career as a Naval intelligence officer. Her message centered on a theme of planning for the future.
"It's about leveraging our assets and creating master plans to better guide growth," said Vitale. "I've worked to find ways for everyone to grow and proposer, and to keep Chesapeake on track as one of Virginia's safest places to live."
Another incumbent, longtime Councilmember Ella Ward, said she is a servant leader. She spent more than three decades as an educator.
"I've served this city for 50 years. I've always tried to listen, tried to work hard," she said.
She also stated her history of community involvement, like beginning local civic leagues. Ward promised a continued dedication to funding public safety officers, as well as schools.
Daniel Whitaker, another contender in this race, said he is a Chesapeake native with a drive to serve his hometown community. He vowed to uphold constitutional protections at a local level.
Whitaker also believes enhancing public safety has a domino effect. “We’ve got to have at least one of the best compensation packages for our first responders. Businesses will not come to Chesapeake if it’s not safe," he said.
Candidate Karen Moultrie did not attend the forum Thursday night.
And one hot topic driving voters to the polls in Chesapeake this year is recycling. City-sponsored curbside recycling came to a halt in June.
The community organization Chesapeake Recycles will moderate and host a town hall event focused on that one issue.
It will take place October 26 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at ForKids Incorporated 1001 Poindexter St, Chesapeake, VA 23324.