I am a Portsmouth, Virginia girl – born and raised. I grew up here, attended Sweethaven Christian Academy and later Portsmouth Christian Schools.
I left the area to attend Lynchburg College before transferring and graduating from Longwood University. After college, I spent a few years in Colonial Place (Norfolk) then back to the Port Norfolk area of Portsmouth before moving to Ghent for several years.
When my sweetheart was transferred from Philadelphia to Hampton Roads for work, he decided to rent a home in Portsmouth because of lower rental rates and the ability for a bigger space. A year or so later, I joined him in our Portsmouth home. It is accurate to say that Portsmouth continues to lure me back in for one reason or another, but just as it pulls me in, eventually it pushes me out.
I, again, find myself yearning to leave my hometown.
What has been going on in Portsmouth over the last year has been a devastating blow to its residents; a mayor that sits on a throne instead of leading as a public servant and a council who is marked by distrust and division. This is what the people of Portsmouth have had as leaders and this is who we are expected to look up to. We put our livelihood and, most importantly, our trust in their hands. The time has come to give these things to someone else. It is time to elect leaders who will uphold the merit of our city and, more importantly, of its citizens.
My charge to you is this – vote on November 8th for leaders who will value our concerns. Vote for leaders who will involve us in their political processes. Vote for leaders who are strong yet kind; bold yet realistic; wise yet humble. Leaders who will listen to us and consider us as more than pawns in their political game.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a cheerleader for Portsmouth. I have so badly wanted us to be more than a ‘place you now have to pay a toll to go.’ I have gladly put on my “Team Portsmouth” shirt via writing. I have made it a personal goal to try and educate people my age about what is going on in our city. However, with the over abundance of ‘closed session’ meetings, it’s hard to know what is going on in our city. I can admit the sad truth; the current episodes of “How Portsmouth Turns” can be addicting.
Bizarre things happen seemingly on a weekly basis here. City Council meetings are commonly referred to as a circus and are certainly the boiling pot for our city’s issues. The real problem with this is that it’s all entertaining…until it’s not. This is where I, and many residents, stand today. We are watching and we are no longer entertained in the least by Portsmouth’s shenanigans.
As we are poised to face one of the biggest elections our country has seen, I cannot shake the enormity of this local election and what it holds for our future. November 8th will determine what happens to Portsmouth – will we flourish or fall? If it’s a slow burning churn towards the latter, I probably won’t be around to see it. Buying a home will be the next step in my personal journey and that will not happen in Portsmouth, for me, if the city doesn’t embrace a change on Election Day.
To write what needs to be written: our current mayor does not have everyone’s best interest at heart. How do I know this? Because I have been to many assemblies, watched many City Council videos and have done some pretty basic research. I’ve also seen firsthand the way he treats the citizens of Portsmouth, speaking down to those who approach him with questions during meetings. Multiple times, I have seen our Mayor take a question as an automatic challenge. I have noticed the way he treats other mayoral candidates, literally laughing off their answers at forums. He guides the people of Portsmouth with a veiled approach, so we never truly know what’s going on behind ‘closed doors.’ The patronization and secrecy in our local government has to be stomped out in order for our city to rise, coming together to make a better Portsmouth.
This is truly the people’s election; the power is now in our hands. My hope is that the younger citizens of Portsmouth will involve themselves in the vote to make our city what we all know it can be – a place where everyone is heard and embraced, businesses are given the tools to flourish and government transparency rules.
Will Portsmouth be a place that holds your future in its hands or will it be a place that you run from, never looking back? Let’s no longer be the place on the other side of the toll. Together we can make our voices heard.