Name: Karen Kwasny
Biography: Karen Kwasny has served as the Princess Anne District representative for the Virginia Beach Planning Commission since 2015. She is also a member fo the Transition Area/Interfacility Traffic Area Citizens Advisory Committee and the Vision to Action Community Coalition.
1. Why should residents elect you to City Council?
I am running for Virginia Beach City Council, Princess Anne District Representative, because I have a passion for shaping this city to preserve the past, enhance the present, and focus on the future. I also have a deep compassion for the residents of Virginia Beach. I truly care what they think and what they want for their respective areas. It’s important the citizens of Virginia Beach feel they have a voice in the way this city grows and changes.
I have been a member of the Transition Area/Interfacility Traffic Area Citizens Advisory Committee since 2014, the Vision to Action Community Coalition since 2016, and the Princess Anne District representative on the City of Virginia Beach Planning Commission since 2015. Each of these positions provides me the opportunity to input on the health and growth of this city and its residents. I also teach at the college level and have a passion for education that is part of what drove me to run for office.
It’s time to elect new leadership in our district. Now is the time for new energy, new ideas and I am that change we need. I am qualified, positive, passionate and ready to lead.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your community, and how would you address that issue?
Flooding throughout Virginia Beach is the most pressing issue and concern, and the number one reason for change in this race. I have been emphasizing the need for a regional resiliency plan for the past four years, both in my work on the Planning Commission and as a resident of the Transition Area, an area of the city significantly affected by flooding issues related to SLR, more severe and frequent weather events, and subsidence. It is essential that the cities look at ways they can partner to make resilience a priority and a reality. Our initial investments should dredge BMPs and canals, which no longer handle the capacity they once did. As well, we better prepare for an expensive solution over the next decade and we need to seek additional funding from state and federal sources to implement change.
3. Where do you stand on raising taxes to balance your locality’s budget?
I think my opponent has been too quick to raise taxes rather than prioritize spending in the city budget, but we can’t leave options off the table, since Virginia Beach is required to balance its budget. We should look to trim expenses when revenues fall short, but I will not cut education or public safety. We should focus on economic growth and increase revenue from tourism and agriculture instead of raising taxes on residents.
4. What’s your plan to reduce crime?
There is a problem in Virginia Beach that is not a recent one called pay compression. We recruit and train the best police officers, and once they gain years of experience, their pay is so compressed that they move to other cities which benefit from the training and experience here. Losing our most experienced officers puts a strain on recruitment and it becomes a poorly managed cycle. We should improve salaries for experienced officers, because we want them to stay here and use their experience for a safer community in Virginia Beach.
5. What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Our stormwater infrastructure. It is essential that the cities look at ways they can partner to make resilience a priority and a reality. Our initial investments should dredge BMPs and canals, which no longer handle the capacity they once did. As well, we better prepare for extensive land use shifts and an expensive solution over the next decade. We will need to seek additional funding from state and federal sources to implement change.
6. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your community?
Small businesses find Virginia Beach very hard to work with, and businesses have chosen to be across our border in Norfolk rather than Virginia Beach in recent years. This hurts our ability to attract other businesses to Virginia Beach. We must make it easier to start a business in Virginia Beach and work with city departments that encourage not discourage entrepreneurship and job creation. Most job creation happens at the small business level, and every large business was a small business once, so my focus would be on encouraging and nurturing small business growth and making Virginia Beach a center of entrepreneurship. Then I think we will have better success in attracting more companies in the technology and biomedical research areas which the city has been emphasizing.