Name: John Uhrin
Biography: John Uhrin has been a member of Virginia Beach City Council since 2006. He is the director of operations for Burlage Management, overseeing operations of several hotels at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. He is the city council liaison for several organizations, including the Military Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Legislation Coordination Committee.
1. Why should residents re-elect you to City Council?
I was elected to the Virginia Beach City Council in 2006 and am currently serving my third term on City Council. I grew up in a Navy family near Lynnhaven Mall, attended Brookwood Elementary, Plaza Junior High School and graduated from Kellam High School in 1986. I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and finance from Old Dominion University. I started my career in the hospitality industry in high school, as a groundskeeper for the Schooner Inn. In 1991, I was named director of operations for Burlage Management and currently oversees the operation of multiple hotels at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
I have long understood the importance of the coastal nature of our City and work tirelessly promoting water quality initiatives that have helped open up the Lynnhaven River to commercial oyster harvesting for the first time since the mid 1980s. Sea Level Rise and flood control projects have also been a big part of my focus. A Blue Ribbon Task force appointed by Council has also born many common sense solutions to improving the overall quality of our environment.
I care about supporting those that are less fortunate. I helped lead the creation the new Housing Resource Center, which will become a one-stop location to help those that are trying to improve their current living situation. I have worked hard to improve access for the disabled, championing Grommet Island Park, Camp Grom, and many other initiatives that have made Virginia Beach one of the most welcoming cities in the country for those with mobility issues.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your community, and how would you address that issue?
The key issue we face in Virginia Beach is sea level rise and flooding, and we have begun investing in solutions. The city is determining how to put improvements in place that are done correctly the first time and don’t make things worse in nearby neighborhoods. The studies we have begun will help determine that, and I have worked with my colleagues to fund those and complete them in a timely manner. Council has invested millions in enhancing our stormwater management systems and have coordination important studies to determine the order and process of upgrading the city’s ability to manage stormwater from nor’easters, heavy storms and major tropical events. Virginia Beach must demonstrate the commitment to handle these intensifying storms and keep our neighborhoods clear of floodwaters to the greatest extent possible. This commitment will be an expensive and time-consuming one but we must make sure that we fix these issues correctly the first time and not just shift flooding issues from one neighborhood to another.
3. Where do you stand on raising taxes to balance your locality’s budget?
We try to avoid raising taxes at the local level, and our fiscally conservative budgeting practices have been hailed by all major rating agencies as exemplary. We are rated AAA-bond status, which is the highest rating a city can get, and it means we can finance expenditures at the lowest interest rates. We look to trim government spending before considering increases and much prefer to grow the economy and generate tax revenue through growth, but I won’t hurt the quality of life in Virginia Beach or risk our safety or our schools through insufficient funding.
4. What’s your plan to reduce crime?
Actually, Virginia Beach’s crime rate is at 1960s levels, so I commend the Police Chief and all of law enforcement for their excellent work in keeping Virginia Beach safe. We still have issues that occur from time to time at the oceanfront, but at all times our police have been professional, effective and a credit to Virginia Beach. We must continually be vigilant as public safety threats change and are much different threats than we’ve faced in the past, but I’m confident our police department is cognizant of that and trained to keep Virginia Beach safe.
5. What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Our biggest infrastructure need will be the upgrading of our stormwater management system, which we will seek additional funding from state and federal sources and commit a significant amount of our local budget to accomplish in the near future.
6. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your community?
Promotion of biomedical and high-speed internet initiatives have been some of the accomplishments I have focused on in his mission to bring job opportunities to The Beach so that Virginia Beach has opportunities that will keep our young talent here. We must prepare for industries of the future and be less reliant on federal spending.