PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — With a population of around 96,000, Portsmouth is one of Hampton Roads’ smallest cities with some of its biggest problems.
The city is caught in what some are calling a crisis in leadership. The city manager and city attorney positions are open and the police chief has been placed on leave. The Vice Mayor, Lisa Lucas-Burke, just criminal charges dropped after calling for the police chief to be fired. This, while her mother, State Senator Lousie Lucas, and 18 others face charges after a protest in which the city’s Confederate monument was vandalized.
“Portsmouth is pretty much imploding on itself,” one citizen told 10 On Your Side.
All this controversy, while much of High Street holds on by a thread with long-empty storefronts that show no signs of rebirth. Residents are ready for a revolution.
“I would like to see my city revitalized! I was born and raised in Portsmouth and it’s so much land and opportunity and space, and I just would love to see it thrive again,” Tamera Hayes told WAVY.
Max Greenhood said, ” I think the city has a great foundation and a lot of upward potential so I would like to see that realized.”
Greenhood owns Rocket Bike and is president of the Olde Towne Business Association.
“It’s no secret that Portsmouth has a reputation of being a difficult place to do business.”
Greenhood is calling on leaders to cut the red tape and make way for more ribbon cuttings. “Getting more business here, making it easier for people who want to invest in Portsmouth to do that without pulling their hair out.”
Education is the number one priority for Tamera Hayes, a working mom of three, who is president of the Churchland Primary and Intermediate PTA.
“We wear many hats and whoever is elected will have to do the same they will have to wear many hats with an agenda and a focus,” she told WAVY.
Living in Portsmouth, she pays the highest real estate tax rate in the 7-5-7 and wants to know, “Why is that? I would like to know that. Why?”
She also has to pay tolls every day.
“I don’t hear of a lot of people outside of Portsmouth saying they’re coming to Portsmouth to work and I wasn’t able to find work in my city.”
She also can’t find a sports complex for her kids or many community centers. Those are things she’d like to see.
Greenhood said, “If you want better schools better services for those who need them, it all comes back to revenue.”
Greenhood is all in on the Casino referendum.
“I think the casino is going to be the greatest thing to happen in Portsmouth in a generation or two .”
Advocates promise a casino will add jobs, tax revenue and spark a center for economic growth.
Hayes remains neutral on the casino but stands right with Greenhood on the need for economic growth, new jobs, new businesses, and new reasons for kids like hers to stay in Portsmouth and raise their own families here.
“Ultimately everything comes back to having the right people on the city council,” Greenhood said. Which, he contends, means people who think like you, not necessarily look like you or have name recognition. You have to look past the political posters, Greenhood said, and into their platforms to find out how they would vote on what matters to you.
“People who can be unifiers in a divisive time, that’s what the city needs.”
Hayes is also calling for a unified council saying, “We can’t do anything but go up from here.”
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