James “Jimmy” Gray Jr. is a candidate for Hampton City Council. His 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 the 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: James “Jimmy” Gray Jr.

Race: Hampton City Council

Website: Jimmy Gray for Hampton City Council

Biography: Jimmy Gray was elected to the Hampton City Council in May 2016 and re-elected in 2018. He retired from the Hampton city government in 2014, serving as assistant city manager with direct oversight of public safety and human services departments. Prior to that he served as the city’s fire chief for six years. He has 36 years of local government experience.

In his current position on the Hampton City Council, Gray serves as vice mayor and represents the city on various local and regional boards and commissions, including Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Hampton Roads Regional Jail, and the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads. He was also appointed by former Gov. Ralph Northam as the local government representative on the Virginia Board for Workforce Development.

Gray earned an A.A.S. degree from Tidewater Community College, a bachelor of science degree from Hampton University, and a master of public administration degree from Troy University. In addition, he has completed numerous leadership development programs, including the Civic Leadership Institute, LEAD Hampton Roads and the Senior Executive Institute at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Gray values community service and gives his time freely to serve on the boards of various nonprofits. His leadership roles include president and CEO of Hampton Roads Committee of 200+ Men, Inc, president of The 200+ Men Foundation, and president of the Fort Monroe Foundation. Additionally, he serves on the Boards of Y.H. Thomas Community Center, Hampton Education Foundation, Bernadine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, and Soundscapes.

He and his wife Dana have four adult children and three grandchildren.

Why should residents elect you to City Council?

I am running for re-election to Hampton City Council because I have passion for community service and my work and life experiences make me uniquely qualified. I’ve served our city in many capacities, including fire chief, assistant city manager, and city councilman, and I understand Hampton’s challenges and opportunities. I know how to build relationships to solve problems and effect change for the betterment of our city. I’m focused on the future and determined to work effectively with others in the community to make Hampton a safe, attractive, and inclusive city for those who call it home today and for generations to come. For more information on my campaign for re-election, visit my website at www.jimmygray.org.

What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?

  1. Reduce poverty and crime: We must be more intentional with our efforts to ensure every disadvantaged family is aware of, and takes advantage of, the resources that are available to help them become self-sufficient. I advocated for adding economic empowerment and self-sufficiency as a council priority, and now I want add funding to stand up a department with staff to work directly with families who live at or below the poverty level. Focusing on improving families and moving them up from poverty will also support our crime reduction efforts.
  2. Increase Economic Development: I want to attract new commercial investments and implement new strategies to attract more small business investments. Expanding the commercial tax base will lower the burden on the residential tax base to fund city services.
  3. Increase Neighborhood Engagement: The city has many aging neighborhoods, and we must ensure they remain viable places that will attract new investments through homeownership. New ordinances have been passed to prevent blight, but we need to strengthen each neighborhood with more city investments and encourage more citizen engagement through neighborhood associations and neighborhood watch groups.

What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?

Attracting new commercial developments to diversify our tax base is a pressing issue. Hampton is a fully developed city with limited availability of vacant land to attract new, large-scale, development projects. Strategic redevelopment of existing areas must continue but it is a long-term proposition. Therefore, with the few sites that are available for development, we must attract and approve new projects that are the highest and best use on the sites.

What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?

Replacement and/or renovation of aging city facilities including schools, fire stations, local jail, and others. These projects will consume large percentage of capital improvement funds over several years. The priority projects have been identified and will be funded in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Others may be addressed using ARPA funds.

How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?

Gun violence causes trauma, fear and disrupts Hampton’s quality of life. Gun violence places a burden on city resources like police, EMS, and social services. It also gives our city a negative image that adversely impacts tourism and business investment. Violent crime must be address by focusing resources on the few individuals in the community who pose the greatest threat and those who are most likely to be a victim of violent crime. Providing intensive prevention and intervention services to these individuals and their families can disrupt the cycle of violence.