VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Election Day is a week away and there are seven city council seats up for grabs in Virginia Beach.
Four incumbents are running again for city council and 20 candidates are running in total.
Rocky Holcomb is hoping to reclaim his seat, now named District 1. Last year, Councilwoman Jessica Abbott resigned from her position, and city leaders appointed Holcomb in the interim.
Holcomb is a chief deputy at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office and a former state delegate. Holcomb said Virginia Beach is a safe large city, and he wants to help keep it that way. But affordable housing is a big issue for him.
“We have got to move the ball down the field and make some progress on that so that folks can live here in Virginia Beach,” Holcomb said. “Oftentimes our teachers, our public safety officials, they can’t live in the city they work in.”
Newcomer Melissa Peck also wants the District 1 seat.
Peck is a mother of four and a trained librarian. The biggest issue Peck hopes to tackle if elected is also the rising cost of living.
“We need a city council that is transparent and fiscally responsible with the tax revenue,” Peck said. “So, I will support initiatives that will have the greatest impact on residents in Virginia Beach, whether that is reducing red tape for businesses or taking steps for more affordable housing in Virginia Beach.”
Five candidates are vying for the District 2 seat in Virginia Beach.
Barbara Henley is the incumbent. Michael Mauch, Nanette Miller, Elaine Fekete, and Matthias Paul Telkamp hope to unseat her.
Henley owns Henley Farms in Virginia Beach. She said she wants to keep on top of flooding projects if re-elected.
“At long last, we have done a lot of work to develop the knowledge and the understanding of the wind tide situation that causes flooding in the southern part of the city,” Henley said. “And I just want to make sure we keep those projects moving.”
Virginia Beach Oceanfront restaurant owner Michael Mauch said he's running to ensure his young children have the best possible city when they grow up. Flooding is a big issue for him, but the impact of inflation on the community is also on his mind.
“I want to make sure we have any form of relief we can when it comes to inflation,” Mauch said. “So, taxes, I want to look at taxes and make sure we can keep things low. Inflation hits everyone the exact same way.”
Retired U.S. Navy Commander Nanette Miller said she’s running to get more military experience on the city council. Miller said she wants to make sure law enforcement leaders in the city have all the resources they need. But she’s pushing to open communication lines with city leaders.
“Working together not just as city council, but with all the different divisions and departments within the city, to make sure we are all working together for the common good,” Miller said.
Matthias Paul Telkamp owns an information technology consulting company. Telkamp said he’s running to ensure city council members don’t push agenda items to the next meeting. He hopes to simplify city processes.
“I want to make sure we streamline a lot of the processes,” Telkamp said. “I want to work with the commissioner of revenue and the treasurer in order to allow businesses to be able to actually do all of their business work with the city through a single online platform.”
Elaine Fekete is a part-time real estate agent and vice president of the Sandbridge Civic League. She wants tax relief but said she is always looking for new solutions to flooding.
“The first thing I want to see happen is tax relief,” Fekete said. “I would like to see excess revenue return to citizens. The other thing I would like to do is find and implement the flooding solutions specifically for District 2 which are unique and were not covered by the bond referendum.”
Four candidates are battling for the District 6 seat in Virginia Beach: incumbent Linwood Branch, Cat Porterfield, Rick Kowalewitch, and Worth Remick.
City leaders appointed Branch to the city council after former Vice Mayor Jim Wood resigned. Branch is a small business owner and hopes to get city staffing back to pre-COVID levels.
“We implemented a large compensation package and a step program payment plan for public safety, we are trying to get our police officers staffed up and our city employees, getting our customer service back to where it needs to be,” Branch said.
Cat Porterfield is a real estate agent and said she’s running to try and bring better communication to city council.
“There is kind of a tone that is bad, and it is bad in city communications, and it is bad when you go to a council meeting and see how people are addressed when they come before the council,” Porterfield said. “And I feel like if we can change that tone, if we can learn how to communicate better with each other, there are so many things we can do in Virginia Beach."
Former surf shop owner and self-employed homebuilder Rick Kowalewitch said he wants to help fully staff the police department and focus on flooding in the city.
“The dangerous part is stormwater; we are one storm away from a disaster,” Kowalewitch said. “One storm could happen tonight, and we have neglected it for a long time, and it should have never happened because we have the money.”
Worth Remick is a Hampton Roads native and real estate advisor. He wants to focus on public safety, tax relief, and transparency.
“More transparency, more level the playing field, as it goes for city projects on city property,” Remick said. “Whether it be at the Oceanfront or other parts of the city, more transparency.”
Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond wants to take the District 4 seat and is running unopposed. She’s a former Virginia Beach councilwoman and currently chairman of the Virginia African American Cultural Center. She is running to improve the lives of every Virginia Beach family.
On Tuesday, 13News Now will interview city council candidates in Districts 8, 9, and 10.