Cathy “Cat” Porterfield is a candidate for Virginia Beach City Council. Her name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2022.
10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race. If you do not see a candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.
See who is on your ballot by viewing the candidate lists on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Name: Cathy “Cat” Porterfield
Race: Virginia Beach City Council
Biography: I am a wife, mother, realtor, and award-winning journalist with a background in print journalism, specifically military and local news coverage including reporting on government bodies — like city councils. I have been married for 19 years to a U.S. Navy veteran and son of a Navy Commander who grew up in Virginia Beach and moved our family here as soon as the opportunity presented itself. He is our city’s biggest fan.
Our son, who will be entering his junior year at Cox High School, is a shining example of the quality of Virginia Beach City Public Schools and his teachers at W.T. Cooke, Virginia Beach Middle, First Colonial High, and now Cox. We have two grown daughters, a grandson, and a granddaughter who have all called Virginia Beach home.
Why should residents elect you to City Council?
The special interests of a select few are threatening the overall health of our city and its residents. Officials are actively working to suppress voices to accomplish their goals. I want to help put the brakes on so we can stop, reassess, have the hard talks, find the best solutions, and move forward with a coastal vibe of collaboration and understanding.
I am a fearless journalist with a track record of having the courage and curiosity necessary to dig in and get the work done. I owe no favors to special interests and will serve without fear or favor.
What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?
- Reckless development: This is exacerbating flooding issues even as the city works through Phase 1 of its $568 million plan to fight the threat of rising sea levels and stormwater. The next big storm could hit tomorrow, yet the city council continues to green-light projects that eliminate stands of old-growth trees and carelessly allow more concrete to be poured eliminating much of our natural defenses against flooding. As the city facing the largest threat of catastrophic flooding on the east coast, we need to be hyper-vigilant about the environmental impact of any proposed development.
- Housing: I’d work to harness our collective imagination and seek out other innovative ideas used by similar communities to address affordable housing options as well as find a compassionate and effective way to care for our unhoused community.
- Transparency and citizen oversight (with subpoena power) of police authority: To extend to the sheriff’s department and jail. I also view a judicial review panel comprised of citizens as an essential component of this transparency.
What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?
We have an affordable housing issue that is so dire our own city workers can’t afford to live in the very city they serve. I believe we could begin to relax this issue simply and quickly while we look at a more long-term plan by introducing the following:
- Allow homeowners (have an easier permitting process) with adequate space to create housing pods on their property that can be rented out to others or to be used for family.
- Look for other opportunities for blended-use development and use existing structures/pavement footprints to avoid further flooding issues.
- Tiny home communities. Let’s look at best practices in other areas where this has worked. It’s become quite a movement.
- Homeownership programs for city workers/teachers/police so they can afford to live in the city they work in.
What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Let’s start by not continuing to eradicate the infrastructure mother nature has already given us to mitigate flooding — trees and open spaces. Mature stands of trees and wetlands, that are already supposed to be protected, are being gobbled up in favor of unnecessary development. Then we can focus on putting back some of what we’ve already taken away. Let’s give the city more parks and less pavement.
How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?
I want to see us address the trauma experienced by those who have been impacted by gun violence because that is what is at the root of gun violence.
Young people who have lost, or know someone who has lost, a father, brother, son, or friend to gun violence get imprinted by that trauma. We need to identify these outlying victims of gun violence because this trauma imprint makes them more susceptible to becoming victims or perpetrators of gun violence. The last thing we need to do is turn our backs on the families of these victims. That is the literal opposite of a solution.
A comprehensive solution would include community healing, promoting healthy masculinity, summer employment for teens in neighborhoods susceptible to violence, street intervention workers, professional violence interrupters, taking guns from domestic abusers, following up when someone tries to buy a gun legally and doesn’t pass a background check and last, but not least — creating accountability for sworn officers.