VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Election Day is exactly one week away and in Virginia Beach, 20 candidates are hoping to get your vote for multiple city council seats.
District 8 in Virginia Beach covers part of Shore Drive, Kings Grant, and Great Neck neighborhoods.
Chris Taylor, John Andrews, and Rona Marsh are vying for that city council seat.
“I love this community, I have grown up in the area,” Taylor said.
Taylor is the co-owner of several Smoothie Stop Cafés and said he wants to bring his business background to city council. He wants to work on economic development, increase funding for first responders and focus on mental health services.
“Coming out of COVID, a lot of our children and even young adults have some challenges around mental health,” Taylor said. “So, I want to ensure our local communities have support for mental health especially for our community and military.”
Retired Navy Captain, John Andrews, currently works as a manager for the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
“We have to take care of every citizen in District 8,” Andrews said.
He wants to focus on maintaining quality schools and healthy waterways. But Andrews is also running to encourage regional cooperation with the military.
“Really hoping to develop a workforce with the 15,000 veterans who transition into the workforce, or out of the active duty into the workforce, every year,” Andrews said. “Bringing with them, post 9/11 GI bill benefits. We could set up a pipeline of talented workers to support wind development, biotech, health care tourism.”
Rona Marsh is a retired fraud examiner and said she’s running to be the citizens’ voice.
“I have been going to council meetings since 2016 and speaking up about various things with the budget,” Marsh said.
Marsh said tax relief is her top priority and she wants to help break down city finances for the community.
“I believe the citizens would be happy if they could go to the website and see a dashboard of what our spending and revenues are,” Marsh said. “Citizens have no idea, we talk transparency, but it is very difficult to find out where the money is going.”
District 9 covers the Bayside area in Virginia Beach and part of Shore Drive.
Incumbent John Moss is running against Joash Schulman and T.J Morgan.
“If elected, it would be my fourth consecutive term and sixth consecutive overall,” Moss said.
Moss recently retired as the director of submarine program requirements warfare development and readiness for the Commander of Submarine Forces in Norfolk. If elected again, he wants to keep stormwater projects on track and focus on tax relief.
“Tax relief is number one,” Moss said. “Families are having an extremely difficult time making ends meet. “Winter heating season is coming, and we know what those bills are going to be like, folks need some tax relief.”
Joash Schulman is an attorney who owns Town Center Office Suites.
"I have three little girls,” Schulman said. “They are 7, 7, and 5."
He wants to grow the workforce in Virginia Beach and create a sustainable coastal community. Schulman said he’d like to bring better communication to city council.
“I would like to do my part to change the tone and tenor of our city council meetings,” Schulman said. “It is OK to disagree with one another, but I think we need to keep in mind that we should disagree respectfully and be consensus-driven and just understand that people have different viewpoints in this world.”
T.J. Morgan is a chiropractor and gym owner, who has served as the Chesapeake Beach Civic League President for 10 years.
“I’m a local guy, graduated from Kempsville High School,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he wants to create more vocational jobs in the area and focus on flooding projects.
“We really need to make sure this bond referendum stays on schedule,” Morgan said. “It is an existential threat. I know that we are replenishing our beaches now. Every five years, two-thirds of it is gone.”
This election cycle, District 10 covers the Green Run and Rosemont neighborhoods and part of Landstown.
Jennifer Rouse and Heidi Daniels are vying for this spot.
“I believe I have something to offer this city,” Rouse said.
Rouse is an assistant professor of sociology at Tidewater Community College. She’s the wife of current Virginia Beach councilman Aaron Rouse, who is not seeking another term.
“I believe that the perspective of my discipline, and just even being an educator in our community, it is a different way of connecting to residents in our city,” Rouse said. “I think that perspective could be really useful to our city council.”
For years, Heidi Daniels has worked as the executive director of Green Run Homes Association. She’s also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“I just want to make a difference in my community,” Daniels said. “I try to do it on the HOA level, but that is really only a small portion."
Daniels said she wants to put neighborhoods first. She wants to build up District 10 and create more affordable housing for residents across the city.
“People want to move into a community that has all the amenities right there, they don’t want to have to drive,” Daniels said. “And so, if I can bring some businesses, if I can fill those empty spaces with entrepreneurs, people that are starting up. Let’s give them some grant money to start up to be able to rent a space and let’s get those spots that are empty filled up.”
Rouse said she’s running to strengthen Virginia Beach public schools, create more affordable housing and build up the workforce.
“Workforce development is huge, it’s a big principle of my institution,” Rouse said. “So, I want to make sure that people who work in our city can find jobs with livable wages. And when jobs come to this city, or small businesses create jobs, that people have the training to be able to access them, that they are not locked out of really good paying opportunities here.”