On April 3rd, I interviewed with the Hampton Roads Realtors® Association for a potential endorsement. Prior to the meeting I filled out a questionnaire. Although I do not yet know if I received an endorsement, I will post the questionnaire below along with my answers.
Do you own your home? If so, approximately how long have you been a homeowner in this locality? My husband, Don, owns our home. He has lived in in our abode in Greenbrier for nearly thirty years. I moved in with him in 2011.
Do you now or have you ever owned rental property? Yes
I no longer own rental property, but I rented out a condominium in Massachusetts for a few years in the 1990s.
Please list any REALTORS® who provided you support and/or are actively working on your campaign
Jo Anne Gallant
If you are elected, what will be your top three (3) priorities and why?
- Funding our schools, infrastructure, and first responders, because our community needs to be livable and safe. Residents want their children safe and well-educated, for they are important in their own right and citizens of tomorrow.
- Protecting our environment because all residents need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and the satisfaction of connecting with nature. A pure environment keeps residents safer and healthier. With sea-level rise, ignoring the environment will soon lead to devastation for our region.
- Diversifying our tax base to support the above.
The Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association has long been a supporter of regional cooperation. What steps can/should your city take to promote more cooperative working relationships between neighboring and nearby localities within the limitations of the Dillon Rule?
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.
What is your city’s biggest economic development challenge?
Growth needs to align with the Comprehensive Plan and not outpace our infrastructure and school capacity. We need to encourage redevelopment in under-served areas where we already have infrastructure and public transportation. We need to grow a business climate here in Chesapeake to attract and keep good, diverse jobs right here at home.
What would you consider to be your city’s top public infrastructure needs?
Top infrastructure needs are roads and bridges to handle increased traffic. Upcoming approved projects are improvements to the High Rise Bridge and the Deep Creek Bridge. Roads with dangerous curves and increased residential development, such as Elbow Road, have received complaints. In the future, the need for more space in schools will be a priority as the city continues to grow. See below for transportation needs.
How would you prioritize transportation infrastructure spending in your city and the region?
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. What if we built in wide, safe bike-paths, encouraged mixed-use communities where residents can walk or safely bike to the store and work? What if residents could take a ten or twenty-minute bus ride to get to popular regional work, higher educational, and beach destinations instead of clogging our roads and bridges? Let’s envision the community we want to become then work together to make it happen.
With flooding, storm surges and sea-level rise a growing problem in Hampton Roads, what is your vision for coping with and overcoming these challenges in your city and the region?
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 sources. I support the approval of solar farms where these are feasible, for example. I support mass transportation and alternative transportation like cycling. Our green spaces need to be respected and our environment preserved. We need to work together regionally, and advocate at the state and federal levels to fight this crisis.
What kind of growth would you like to see in your city over the next 10 years? What steps should the locality take to direct that growth?
Growth should align with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
I founded the group that got backyard hens legalized in Chesapeake and would like to see the local foods movement expanded to include school and community gardens. Agritourism and local farmers’ markets and small business incubators should be encouraged to diversify our economy and increase entrepreneurship. We need to revitalize and redevelop areas like Western Branch, Deep Creek, and South Norfolk where we already have solid infrastructure and public transportation. There should be mixed-use residential communities where people can walk or bike to the store or work and where community needs like child care are readily available nearby. I also would like to see more safe, wide bike trails like the one currently along Volvo Parkway.
Chesapeake should be a thriving center for music, culture, and the arts. Pedestrian-friendly, walkable areas with microbreweries, art galleries, and frequent musical events would attract business. This could be located either along a waterfront or in an area like South Norfolk. The city could close off some roads and have some street festivals to get the concept started.
I support regional efforts to develop a high-speed broadband network. Revenue-producing data centers and other economic opportunities will follow.
What, if anything, would you do to expand the availability of affordable housing in your city?
I will work with the city manager and Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority to make sure there are diverse opportunities for housing as Chesapeake grows. Public housing should be in nestled within and be part of mixed-income neighborhoods wherever possible. We need to pay our police, firefighters, teachers, etc., well enough that they can afford local housing.
What, if any, changes do you think are needed by your school district to improve?
City Council affects schools through funding and through approval or denial of residential development. Cutbacks at the state and federal level have increased the financial burden on schools and on the city to pay for school needs. Council should focus on increasing revenue streams without unduly burdening taxpayers or small businesses. Diversified business growth will allow the city to fund school needs without increasing taxes and fees. School overcrowding is an issue currently being addressed by the School Board through rezoning. The school system is currently doing a great job and attracts families and businesses to Chesapeake. The city needs to continue to support the Superintendent’s and School Board’s efforts and the schools’ needs.
What do you see as the distinction between REALTORS® and real estate licensees?
A real estate licensee has taken classes, passed a test, and met state requirements. A Realtor belongs to a national association which holds the Realtor to higher ethical standards.