The South Hampton Roads League of Women Voters recently published a Vote 411 Guide to Chesapeake's elections coming up May 1st. You can read all the survey responses for the Mayoral, City Council, and School Board races at this link. For convenience I've posted the questions and my own responses below.
League of Women Voters Survey
Biography: Mary Lou lives in Greenbrier. She earned a B.A. in Latin, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Vermont, an M.A. in Classics from Tufts University, and an M.S.A. in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University. A North Carolina Principal Fellow with over 25 years’ classroom experience, she currently teaches Latin at Deep Creek High School. She is married and the mother of a grown son. She led the successful grassroots movement to get backyard hens legalized in Chesapeake.
What will you do to address sea level rise and increased flooding in Hampton Roads?
Climate change is real, and City Council can and should be doing more to address it. We need to diversify our energy sources by supporting clean, diverse, local energy. I support mass transportation and alternative transportation like cycling. Our green spaces need to be respected. We need to work together regionally, and advocate at the state and federal levels to fight this crisis.
In what ways will you advance the public schools as the economic driver in your city?
I will support funding our public schools to the fullest extent possible. We need to provide the school board with enough money for school maintenance and to continue top-quality programs, teachers and other personnel for all our schools. Encouraging thriving, eco-friendly, diverse businesses will provide a strong tax base to support our community's needs, including schools. Also see further comments on growth.
How do you feel about the building of solar farms in Chesapeake?
I support solar farms and disagree with Council’s denial of several proposed locations in Chesapeake. There are limited places where they are feasible. They are a clean, quiet source of sustainable and renewable energy. Approval of solar farms will help farm families make their land profitable, and profitable farms preserve our green spaces and agricultural heritage. No farmer should feel compelled to sell out to a developer because farming has become unprofitable.
As Chesapeake continues to grow in population, how would you manage that growth to provide government services efficiently?
Current Council has approved housing developments where the Planning Commission has recommended denial. Why? Growth needs to align with the Comprehensive Plan and not outpace our infrastructure and schools. Let’s encourage redevelopment in under-served areas where we already have infrastructure and public transportation. Let’s grow a business climate here in Chesapeake to attract and keep good, diverse jobs right here at home.
What would you do to increase regional cooperation with other Hampton Roads localities?
Regional cooperation is urgently needed in areas like fighting climate change, public transportation, a potential high-speed broadband network, tourism, coordinating community services, and taking full advantage of our region as a major harbor and transportation hub. A non-partisan group, the Future of Hampton Roads, Inc., has recently produced a visionary report at http://fhrinc.org/, and we should work together as a region to make a vision similar to this one possible.
Should the city proceed to plan and fund improved public transit within its city limits (buses, ferries, light rail or bus rapid transit) -- even if neighboring cities decide not to improve theirs?
Yes, we need to find the funding to improve public transit and alternative transit. Chesapeake needs to take the lead and embrace the future. If we keep doing the same old thing, expanding residential development and then slowly catching up in terms of roads and bridges, we’ll only see the same old school- and road-clogging results. Let’s envision the community we want to become then work together to make it happen. Chesapeake is a great place to live, and we can make it even better.