The problem here is many members ARE too busy with other pursuits to give the citizens the voice they need.
We elect people to carry out the will of the people and protect our inalienable rights from the ulterior motives of wayward activists, special interest boondoggles, and rapacious developers. What do we do when they become too busy with other facets of their lives to hear the voice of the little guy who funds their adventures… um, I mean programs?
Jessica Abbot had a town hall at her local Virginia Beach District’s recreation center and was well received from a packed house. Now, Jessica wasn’t applauded for being a know-it-all; in fact, she humbly admitted when she didn’t have an immediate solution to traffic, flooding or any of the myriad issues the city faces. What she did was listen to citizens and legitimately show that she cares.
John Moss, a leading local voice on economics and tax policy, has held three town halls over the past year alone. I know several council people who are also accessible, while even though they haven’t hosted town halls, they are still receptive. Barbara Henley is happy to talk to people and heads the Virginia Beach/Princess Anne Historical Society, Will Sessoms does attend most high profile events where he will answer certain questions.
The problem here is many members ARE too busy with other pursuits to give the citizens the voice they need. Ben Davenport runs the Virginia Gentlemen Foundation, is a board member on the MOCA Contemporary Art board, the Neptune Festival, all while still working at Davenport Real Estate Group. John Uhrin serves on the Military Economic Development Advisory Committee, the Legislation Coordination Committee, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the Resort Advisory Commission, the Virginia Beach Arena Project, the Virginia Aquarium Foundation and the Dome Site and Rudee Loop projects.
These are just two examples, but they highlight the various extra-curricular’s, pursued by our decision makers. The tie that binds is always real estate, banking, and tourism development; but experienced readers can browse past this paragraph as nothing to see here. They are too involved in other activities to talk to us, let alone faithfully execute their duties. Most telling from Council Lady Abbott’s presentation was what she said in the closing minutes: that she is provided with a stack of agenda items and briefings on Friday afternoon and it takes her all Friday night and Saturday morning to read through it. Not that politicians need to read everything they vote on anymore, I mean that’s so 18th century.
Here is what we need to do. Call your local council man or women and insist they do a town hall! I have provided the names numbers, and emails of every Virginia Beach council person below. If you live in Norfolk, Richmond or elsewhere, follow our lead and call yours as well – we can remind the elected class that they are public servants and they work for us. Happy hunting!
John Uhrin, email@example.com, (757) 425-5222
Rosemary Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org ,(757) 422-0733
James Wood, email@example.com, (757) 785-4342
Shannon Kane, firstname.lastname@example.org , (757) 802-3236
Barbara Henley, email@example.com (757) 426-7501
Bobby Dyer, firstname.lastname@example.org, (757) 467-3130
Ben Davenport, email@example.com , (757) 425-6611
Vice Mayor Louis Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org (757) 583-0177