Truth Tracking the Virginia Beach mayoral race

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is truth-tracking the only television ad in the heated race for Virginia Beach mayor.   

Current Mayor Bobby Dyer has served in the role since 2018, when he won the election to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Will Sessoms after he stepped down to return to TowneBank. 

After all is said and done, this Virginia Beach Mayor’s race will have brought in close to $900,000, possibly up to $1 million dollars. 

The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association’s political commercial supporting current mayor Dyer is on air — and it’s not making Dyer’s opponent, businesswoman Jody Wagner, happy. 

The commercial begins with still pictures and says “Washington, Portland, Seattle, Richmond — across America the police are under fire.” 

The Virginia Beach PBA supports Dyer because the organization says he is always with police and supports important police issues, 

“But in Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer has worked with police to keep this the safest large city in America,” the commerical said. 

A national study calls Virginia Beach the safest city for a city its size. 

The commercial continues: “That could change if liberal Democrat Jody Wagner is mayor.” 

Jody Wagner not happy with the PBA commercial.

“It is completely inappropriate. I have never advocated any kind of violence,” she said. 

The commercial continues: “She is marching with protesters who want to defund the police and threaten public safety.” 

The Truth Tracker finds that false: Wagner has never advocated defunding the police, 

“In fact, I am concerned police are underfunded, they are having trouble retaining officers, and not able to recruit minority officers,” Wagner added. 

Wagner even wrote similar statements in her application for PBA support to President Brian “Lucky” Luciano, who was not swayed by her application.

“I do think she would be dangerous. All we have to do is look across the country,” he said. 

The PBA’s commercial continues: “Don’t let Virginia Beach become a Portland or Seattle.” 

The Truth Tracker finds that statement an inconsistent comparison. Some violent scenes across the country contrast with the peaceful Norfolk State University Unity March where Wagner walked with student-athletes. The event was a positive demonstration of a peaceful gathering protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“I will tell you this, the officers who I represent were very concerned about those images,” she said. “I am very supportive of the police. I am very supportive of peaceful protesters. They are not inconsistent.” 

For his part, Dyer has taken his role in campaigning seriously. He has a collection of signs and campaign materials in the trunk of his car.

He is targeted by Wagner with deeply funded efforts by the Virginia Democratic Party to send out targeted direct mail literature. In that mail, Wagner claims Dyer has broken his promises he outlined in a “Contract with Virginia Beach” that he produced in 2018 when he was running for Mayor the first time.  

Wagner quoted Dyer saying “I’m Only mayor on Tuesdays” — which are City Council days.

It’s true, Dyer did say that, but the mailed materials leave some parts out.

“They didn’t finish it because I then say ‘Call me Bobby D the rest of the week.  I want to be approachable,’” Dyer said. 

The Truth Tracker finds it true Dyer is saying that to be approachable, and it doesn’t show Dyer as detached or ineffective. 

The mailers also say “Virginia Beach has too many challenges to have a part-time mayor,” but Truth Tracker finds Dyer’s comment is taken out of context. 

We asked Wagner about that, and she said “OK, I’ll give you that,” referring to Dyer using that sentence to appear approachable.  

Wagner’s materials also state Dyer has “failed to deliver on combating flooding.”

Truth Tracker finds that false. Dyer and council have delivered millions, 

“Since Hurricane Matthew we have spent $172 million on flooding. It has been a number one priority for council.” 

10 On Your Side told Wagner that millions have been given to solve flooding issues.

“Well, he might be doing something, but he is not doing enough, and he is not doing it fast enough.” 

Dyer admits some shortcomings: “Some promises I was unable to keep.” 

It is true, Dyer has failed to deliver on some of the campaign promises he made in 2018.

“I was supposed to put together a task force for flooding, but guess what, the Dewberry study came out and gave us the road map on how to proceed.” 

Truth Tracker accepts Dyer’s explanation of why a task force was unnecessary after the study came out and the city decided to follow it to deal with sea level rise and continual flooding issues.

Wagner also faults Dyer on failing to form an ethics committee panel.

“Have you seen an ethics panel? I haven’t seen one,” Wagner said. 

Truth Tracker finds that true — Wagner is right — Dyer and City Council have not formed a Virginia Beach ethics panel.

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