Name: David Nygaard
Biography: David Nygaard has lived in Virginia Beach for 40 years. He graduated from Regent University with a MBA and currently operates a regional jewelry business called David Nygaard Custom Fine Jewelers.
1. Why should residents elect you to City Council?
I’ve lived in Virginia Beach since my father moved the family here in 1978 and I graduated from Kempsville, then William and Mary, and finally received an MBA from Regent. I was privileged to take a small business my mom Sandy started in Larkspur, Sandy’s Touch of Gold, and grew it into a regional chain of jewelry stores- David Nygaard fine Jewelers. I’ve had businesses all over Hampton Roads, but was always based in Virginia Beach; I have a deep understanding of the challenges facing small businesses, and have experienced what some cities do well and others struggle with in supporting small businesses. I was very successful and named regional as well as State wide small business of the year, Best Places to Work, and other awards. In 2008, during the Great Recession I was forced like many into bankruptcy by my bank Wachovia, and I was forced to rebuild my business creating a new business model relying on emerging technologies of computer aided design and 3D printing. I was recognized for rebuilding my business this way by the Virginia Pilot for Entrepreneurial Excellence. I know what it takes to make a large payroll, and I know what it feels like to live pay check to pay check like many of our residents. I’ve served as an advisor to local Entrepreneurship Centers, and taught Entrepreneurship as adjunct at Chowan University. I know and understand small business and it’s time we have someone who truly understands small business on city council. I have an aggressive platform which includes helping victims of domestic violence receive more help when prosecuting their assault cases, flood mitigation in a 4 year period (my 4% in 4 year plan), small business incubation taking advantage of emerging technologies like I was able to incorporate in my own businesses, medical marijuana reform, and preserving our beach culture by greater transparency in government and policies which do not favor one business over another. It’s time we remove the culture and perception of “cronyism” in our development practices and move toward greater transparency. Recently I introduced an initiative to place a referendum on the ballot to change the charter to district voting which is more representative. I believe we can make local government more responsive by bringing representation closer to the people. I intend to lead on these major issues as a candidate even before I am elected, and have already hosted an educational workshop on how to navigate the new medical marijuana laws, and have set up a workshop on Domestic Violence and how we, as men can address our own culture to reduce violence against women.
My mom taught me that honesty and transparency begins with the candidate- and so there are a number of reasons my opponents may use to say I’m not qualified. Yes, I went bankrupt during the Great Recession; it was forced upon me when my bank Wachovia was failing, called my business notes, and forced me into bankruptcy. I believe this experience makes me understand the struggles average families go through on a day to day basis. I went through a very difficult divorce that was the most painful experience of my life and I understand how public policies can impact our families when they are most vulnerable. My son made a mistake and became a felon and I understand how our justice system needs to give young people a second chance. 20 months ago I suffered a heart attack and made a commitment to live a more authentic and impactful life my second half, and so I wanted to commit to positive public service. I am not an orthodox candidate and certainly have my flaws, but I believe they make me a better public servant because of these experiences.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your community, and how will you address the issue?
I believe we need to begin to diversify our economy and provide long term career opportunities for our children to be able to remain here. We have some of the best schools in the country- I was blessed to be a product of all local schools- and our children are recruited to other areas. I want to see us begin to take advantage of the high speed cables/data hubs, Federal Opportunity Zones, and begin to incubate small businesses organically helping create incubations centers with local business groups and local university entrepreneurship centers. The Navy is building a fleet which requires fewer personnel, Oceana could well become a victim of base closing, and we need to be prepared to grow our region and not just drift along. Our regional job growth was as poor as Detroit, and I believe we need to take job growth and “brain drain” more seriously.
3. Where do you stand on raising taxes to balance your locality’s budget?
I believe we need to preserve our AAA bond rating and we do not need to raise taxes or fees at this time. I believe the city has sufficient revenue to handle most of our problems as long as we set the right priorities.
4. What’s your plan to reduce crime?
41% of murders, including 2 in recent months in our city, are connected with domestic violence and assault. I have met with several victims of domestic or other assaults who have been forced to prosecute their own cases while their abuser was provided a public defender. I have proposed that we ask the Commonwealth’s attorney to appoint special prosecutors from private practice to fill areas where his office is not able to handle the excess work load. These special prosecutors can come from private practice and work on a pro bono basis so the program won’t need to cost a dime except for some administration. By taking this approach we can help the prosecutor become more efficient and he can have more support from city council to prosecute violent crimes. I believe we need to train our police to be more effective and knowledgeable when they respond to domestic violence calls- so they can handle these, perhaps the most difficult calls they may face on a shift. Such training should include the ability to better identify emotional or physical manipulation by the abuser, possible signs of strangulation/choking by the abuser of the victim (because once an abuser begins to do this, they do not de-escalate and there is a greater chance he will commit murder), and cultural diversity training to better understand minority cultures so we do not have a repeat of the Bellamy Gamboa case.
HumanTrafficking is a serious problem in Virginia Beach and I’d like to see more education on how to spot these types of crimes which are currently “out in the open- but under our noses.” I’d like to see the city council reduce the charge of marijuana possession to the lowest level misdemeanor, effectively decriminalizing it locally, so we can use these first responders in other more serious problems.
5. What are you community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Regional flooding and flood mitigation are major issues related to an aging infrastructure in our city. I have a plan I call 4% in 4 years- simply if we prioritize our budget and take 4% and direct toward infrastructure investment and repair, we can catch up on the maintenance backlog and begin to build a system to reduce the threat of flooding. I believe we also need to take a regional approach and have already met with state representatives and Senators Kaine and Warner to find Federal money as well to help regionally as well as locally.
6. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your community?
When I had a regional chain of jewelry stores, we created our own CRM system to handle a large number of clients, so that we could deliver an amazing customer experience in our stores. This system was so innovative, that we were able to lease it to other businesses, almost as a side business to my jewelry business. We were also involved in emerging technologies of CAD systems, and beta tested several programs. These are the same kinds of programs engineers use to design automobiles or airplanes, but we used them in designing jewelry. We also began using rapid 3D printing technology in our business. We have an opportunity with the high speed data hubs to help grow and incubate small technology firms. Local businesses know how to create local jobs, and companies that start here and grow usually remain head quartered here as well. The next generation is the most entrepreneurial generation we have seen and to the extend the city can encourage and help entrepreneurs I think we should with our business license practices and other policies. We can and should help nurture private incubation centers and encourage city partnerships with local university entrepreneurship centers