Name: Dee Oliver
Biography: Dee Oliver is a Virginia Beach native who currently serves as the vice chair of the city’s planning commission. She is also a board member of the Virginia Beach Resource Home for the Homeless, the executive committee member of the Hampton Roads Chamber – Virginia Beach Division, and the campaign chairman of the Hospice House of South Hampton Roads.
1. Why should residents elect you to City Council?
I love Virginia Beach. I grew up in a military family and graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College (now University) with degrees in Education and Art. I am a fourth-generation resident of Virginia Beach. I married John Oliver in 1984 and spent decades in the funeral business, going back to school for another degree. I am an author of two books, the Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach Planning Commission, an Executive Committee Member of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce – Virginia Beach, Campaign Chair of Hospice House of South Hampton Roads and a Board member of the Virginia Beach Resource Home for the Homeless. I’m seeking office to help take Virginia Beach to the next level. We have so much potential to excel in this city, and I want to help make the future positive for everyone. I’ve been endorsed by the Virginia Beach Education Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Hampton Roads Realtors Association and so many citizens across our city. I want to work for you.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your community, and how would you address that issue?
Flooding is the most pressing issue facing Virginia Beach and to combat the impacts of sea level rise, we must accelerate BMP and canal dredging which is on an entirely underfunded and overlong plan currently in the city. These are crucial in managing stormwater flow during storms below hurricane level. The city is working on modeling and simulation and moving towards engineering projects that will improve the dispersion of stormwater without creating havoc in other parts of the city. I support these efforts and think we need to complete them quickly and efficiently.
3. Where do you stand on raising taxes to balance your locality’s budget?
I don’t support raising taxes, and the Virginia Beach budget is required to be balanced every year. My experience as a business owner has shown me how to cut expenses when revenues are short. I’ve often taken a pay cut as a business owner so my employees can have a Christmas bonus. With city government, we should always look to cut expenses first and create more private sector jobs before ever considering a tax increase.
4. What’s your plan to reduce crime?
I’m endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police because I understand the tools and training needed for a modern police force. Actually, Virginia Beach is among the safest cities of its size in America, but as a tourist location, we have so many gatherings of large numbers of people outdoors. We must make sure we fund law enforcement and give them the tools and training to keep us safe.
5. What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Our biggest infrastructure needs are upgrading our stormwater capacity and addressing traffic congestion. Funding for intracity road projects from the state has dropped off in the last decade, so Virginia Beach has had to take a more proactive role in road projects. Many local roads are already exceeding projected capacity and we must expand and improve roadways which detract from our quality of life. Our stormwater capacity will be a major investment and we must let science and studies advise us on how to best implement improvements throughout the city.
6. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your community?
Our biggest economic development challenge is training a workforce that attracts high-paying jobs to Virginia Beach. Grants and incentives are of minimal advantage unless companies know that we have the workforce they need to succeed. At all levels, education must be ready to meet this need, for young people and career-switchers. An educated workforce is the best way to attract business to Virginia Beach. We’ve also gotten a reputation as a city that’s hard to do business with. We talk about great things, and get great proposals, but year after year, not many of them actually happen. We can’t seem to close a deal. Local businesses find it hard to expand. Projects drag on for years until companies walk away from their own proposals. We’ve got to turn that reputation around.