Name: Garry Hubbard
Biography: Garry Hubbard is a U.S. Navy veteran. He is a retired residential and commercial construction contractor who has worked on projects like the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.
Website: Garry Hubbard for VB City Council
1. Why should residents elect you to City Council?
I’m a Navy veteran honorably discharged, and I’ve been in business since 1981 as a commercial and residential construction contractor, so if anybody knows infrastructure it’s me. Infrastructure is a big word and it covers a lot of different areas – it covers curbs, streets, storm drainage systems, roads, lights. Mostly what people are talking about is crumbling infrastructure.
The storm drainage system, some of the pipes and culverts, are no longer large enough to handle the volume of water that they need to handle during the storms and heavy rains. For comparison what it means is if you’ve got a water hose and then compare it to a fire hose, that’s what it’s got to handle now. That’s old infrastructure so we need to address that. We also need to address the canals and ditches that we have put in but they now have trees growing out of them, so they can’t carry the water. The holding ponds, these are the little areas that hold the runoff, and the lakes that carry the water – they’re not maintained, they start to silt over. They can no longer hold the amount of water that they were designed to hold to begin with.
We paved over more areas, we put up more buildings, we put up more homes, so now there’s no longer the areas to absorb the water that it would once handle. We no longer can actually allow the minimum standards. We’ll have to get with engineering and public works and make sure that any future development have adequate storm drainage systems to actually clear the storm drainage but we have not handled our storm maintenance like we should. City Council admitted for 12 plus years that they have done very little in that area, so I guess out of site out of mind. We need somebody with the right experience the right knowledge and skill sets to make sure that we can address these issues and start to solve some of these problems.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your community, and how would you address that issue?
The most pressing issue is flooding because that is actually a huge cost. Not only is the infrastructure bad, but the flooding issues actually stops development in its tracks. Until we get a handle on this storm drainage systems that we have here and actually start performing storm maintenance, then we’re going to be back in the same area. This costs huge amounts of money. I truly don’t even know the amount of cost not only to bringing it back to satisfaction, but to the actual monetary loss to homes, and the cost to the city and tax basis and jobs lost.
City Council has a 15-year plan and a six-year plan to fix the flooding. So I will ask you as a homeowner – if you’re standing in your living room in three feet of water and they say “we’re going to fix this in 15 years don’t worry about it right now, what would be your response to your city council member that was telling you that?
For a lack of a better description, these are pumps that would dump our flood waters and shoot it to the lakes or the canals, but half of them are down. They are not fully operational and sometimes they are inadequate. These are like the storm drainage systems that you see in New Orleans that will pump the waters back overtop of the levees.
3. Where do you stand on raising taxes to balance your locality’s budget?
We don’t have a tax problem. We shouldn’t raise the taxes or the fees. We have a spending problem. We don’t need to raise these taxes or the fees, we’ve got to actually control and address the debt. We’re spending $577,000 a day just to handle the debt that we have. That is outrageous amounts of money – every two days a million bucks. That is so much money you could fund the school board, you could fund the first responders. We’ve got to start addressing our debt. We don’t have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem. We’ve got to start addressing this debt.
I do believe that taxes and fees are a necessary evil if you’re going to advance the city into the 21st Century, but we have to make sure that this is something that has to be done, not something we that we just go around and do just because you want to fund a special project or to address different studies that really we’ve studied to death.
4. What’s your plan to reduce crime?
Safety is paramount. We’ve had some shootings down at the Oceanfront and quite frankly there’s a lot of dark areas there that are not lit up. There’s different parts of the Oceanfront that need to be addressed. We can actually do this very economically we can put lights with high intensity LED bulbs in some of the dark alley ways so first responders can see what’s going on.
When you shine a light on crime, they usually go somewhere else. I know it’s like kicking crime down the road, but the idea is people tend to feel safer if the area is lit up. We’ll never be able to get rid of all crime, but we are one of the safest cities. More people need to address the issue and put forth these issues specially at the Oceanfront. We need to ask the very people who live down there and work down there,: What would be there concerns? What do they see every day? What do they see that goes on everyday? Because if you don’t tell somebody that somebody’s down there throwing rocks at your house, then that would be like ignoring them and letting them come around and throw rocks at your house. But if you finally address the issue then you can begin to solve the problem.
5. What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
The biggest infrastructure needs right now – and it’s everybody’s pet project – is flooding. The reason it’s everybody’s pet project is because the area truly does flood. Magic Hollow floods, where I live. Windsor Woods floods, where some of my friends live and they’ve lost their homes. Pungo floods due to the south winds and the roads being too low and the elevations. Flooding is one of the major issues.
But also the debt is one of the major issues. The developments, the public-private partnerships. As a commercial and residential construction contractor, we didn’t take one dime from the city. When the city decides to have tax incentives for the other developers, it’s not the city’s job to pick winners and losers and different businesses.
In other words, the city is actually picking certain businesses over another business, and that’s not the city’s job. I know the city sends out feelers and inquiries and certain things they would like to see — what jobs or areas or investments that they’d like to move to the city as another attraction to bring in more tourists — which is fine with me, but each job no matter what it is must stand on it’s own. And if we are to have to public-private partnership, it must favor the city.
6. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your community?
As a businessman – and I have created a lot of high paying jobs – I know what businesses need to come to our area. First and foremost, they’ve got to have an educated labor force. Second, they’ve got to be able to get that labor force to whatever job they’re going to have. Thirdly, they’ve got to have dependable and affordable housing so that everybody can live. Not everybody can go out and buy a $200,000, $300,000 or $400,000 home. And then they’ve got to be able to get to work, not everybody can afford to buy a brand new car.
So we’ve got to address the mass transportation system. Even putting in more busses that only carry eight to 10 people per trip and have more trips, maybe even work on a European model that they have in Kent, England and Rochester called the Medway. The days of trying to use a 40 person bus to get back and forth, and it takes two hours to get back and fourth to work – that’s not sensible.
In my business I had to send a van out to get some of my people so they could be at work, and so we could staff and man the job, and employees would get in on time. Our mass transportation system needs to be really looked at and see what we can do because most mass transportation systems are subsidized by the cit. It doesn’t matter what city you live in – the east coast to the west coast. We’ve really got to address this.
The light rail: The citizens of Virginia Beach spoke and said they do not want the light rails, but we should be able to get to our sister cities, and also Amtrack to open up the city of Virginia Beach from D.C. and back. More people will commute if we have those things.