Rolelian "Vikkey" Carlisle invited me to speak before the Chesapeake Democratic Women at 1 PM today. When I got there, I was told it was a closed meeting, and I was not allowed in. "Why?" I asked. "It was a miscommunication," I was given, along with an apology. So keep reading here for the speech I would have given, had I been given the opportunity in this non-partisan City Council race.
Any group can certainly invite or disinvite any speaker it chooses. It would have been kind to let me know in advance. For any reader who is curious, here is the speech I would have given, after thanking the group for its invitation:
My name is Mary Lou Burke. I live in the Greenbrier area and work as an educator in the Deep Creek area of Chesapeake. Like many of you, I am a wife and mother. My wonderful husband, Don, is a retired Navy submarine sailor and currently a locksmith.
I am part of the wave of women running for public office to fight for our rights since Donald Trump's disastrous election. I supported Bernie Sanders and was one of his delegates at the Virginia State Democratic Convention. I supported Kim Tucker for State Delegate in November. Unfortunately, Kim lost, but lots of progressive women and progressive candidates won. Now it's time to take back our City Council and our School Board. We need to get Ella Ward some help on City Council. I am part of a coalition that supports her as Vice Mayor. We would like to see every candidate support her bid for Vice Mayor.
Some of our current Council members have been unresponsive to our citizens. We need to vote them out and vote in those who represent the people's interests. I pledge my campaign will take contributions only from individual contributors and no more than $500.00 from any one contributor. I encourage other candidates to pledge the same.
My goals are:
- Sensible growth. Let's encourage development in areas that already have the infrastructure and bus transportation or that have empty storefronts where people need jobs. Areas like Western Branch, Deep Creek, and South Norfolk need redevelopment and investment. Schools are overburdened to the south of the city, and residents there don't want more housing there without the road and school infrastructure to sustain it.
- A greater diversity of good-paying jobs. We want green jobs, like solar farms, and high-tech jobs like data centers. I support efforts to bring in high-speed regional broadband to Chesapeake. With jobs closer to home, our roads will be less clogged with traffic during rush hour.
- Support and training for our first-responders. Recent events in Parkland, Florida, reinforce the importance of a safe community and safe schools. At a minimum, we need a school resource officer (SRO) in every high school and middle school. Currently, some schools have an SRO who is split between schools. Having said this, candidates need to know the difference between advocating for safety and dog-whistle politics. I stand against policies and procedures that disproportionately affect people who live in poverty and people of color, like mass incarceration and civil asset forfeiture.
- I will work to earn your vote.
- I will maintain integrity to retain your trust and loyalty.
- I will make good decisions for our common interests and for the people of Chesapeake.