LaKesha “Onyx” Hicks is a candidate for Portsmouth 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: LaKesha “Onyx” Hicks

Race: Portsmouth City Council

Biography: LaKesha “Onyx” Hicks is s native of Portsmouth. She considers herself a perpetual student, as she is always learning new things. She attended I.C. Norcom High School, the University of Villanova, and the Cornell School of Engineering, along with several other institutions of higher learning.

Onyx Hicks, the moniker most know her by, is a social and criminal justice reform activist, first responder advocate, author, a vice president in the Portsmouth NAACP. Hicks is a director at the third largest technology company in the world and a board member for the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops, an organization that works with police officers and communities across the country to improve community relations. She is also the founder of PRR, a not-for-profit organization that works to (P)revent the school to prison pipeline, (R)eform the criminal justice system, and reduce (R)ecidivism by reforming the felon and other offenders.

Hicks is an award-winning executive and has spent most of her professional career at Fortune 20 companies in corporate America. She has not only led the digital revolution and disrupted the market, she has also led, and continues to lead, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that have transformed the culture and improved operational effectiveness.

As an activist and advocate, Hicks practices constructive dissent and puts the needs of the community above politics, titles, and accolades. She most recently worked to expand the Critically Missing Persons Alert with Del. Aijalon Cordoza to ensure all citizens were covered, including the physically and mentally disabled. This enhancement was signed into law by Gov. Glenn Younkin this year.

Hicks is running for a seat on Portsmouth City Council. She is number four on the ballot.

Why should residents elect me for city council?

To bring stability and trust back to the office of the people. Too often times politicians make promises they don’t keep. When you look at Portsmouth, who has the highest crime rate in the state of Virginia, change is needed. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Its time for common sense elections. We must do more than voting for people just because they look like you. Its time to vote for individuals that have experience the common every day life of Portsmouth that also know how to move the city forward.

For example, I grew up in London Oaks Apartments, considered by many to be one of the worst neighborhoods in the city of Portsmouth. As a child, I fit most of the stereo types and misconceptions people, even residents, hold about the city of Portsmouth. I was raised by my grandmother. I raised by a caregiver, that though she worked every day, lived below the poverty line.

I am a double minority, a woman and Black American. I have three children, and we are a product of a blended and re-blended family. Statistically speaking, I’m not supposed to be in leadership at the third largest technology company in the world. I was supposed to mediocre at best, based on the what people think; however, I am proof that pressure that Portsmouth applies forms diamonds.

We have to put people in position than understand the needs of Portsmouth, from the block to the boardroom, and from the corner store to city council. We have to vote people in office that understand they work for the people. We have to have people in position that understand though they hold position, the power belongs to the people. I am that person. I am a solutionist. While most people see the problem in Portsmouth, I see the promise.

What are the top 3 priorities you would tackle if elected?

  1. Fully funding public school system
  2. Supporting our first responders by working to ensure that they are adequately staffed, this will help ensure the overall health and safety of all Portsmouth citizens
  3. Last but not least, return the government back to the people under the watchful eye of the city manager

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

The lack of family entertainment, retail areas, and beautification. Beautification is especially important because it addresses the first two. Statistics show that people and businesses like beautiful places. Crime does not. Fixing and tearing down blighted and dilapidated properties will help curb crime. When an area is beautified and eyesores are removed, it decreases the crime in those areas, and crimes that were committed there are not transferred to other areas. Businesses want to exist and come to picturesque cities with low crime rates. Less crime and more viable areas to build, start, invest in businesses bringing economic opportunities.

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

Flooding. I will work with the state legislature to ensure proper funding so that we can adequately address and upgrade the storm drainage system.

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

I lost my little brother to gun violence a little over 15 years ago. Just like my family, too many families have suffered from losing loved ones to gun violence. This causes mental health issues.

Just like me, many children and young adults have lost their friends to gun violence. Many witnessed the immediate aftermath of losing someone they love. I plan on dealing with that by working regionally with other leaders and law enforcement agencies to form networks of tracking the movements of those committing crimes in one area a fleeing back to their city.

I plan on strengthening the relationship I already have with organizations like PRHA, DJJ and grassroots organizations like Stop the Violence 757 and PRR to provide evidenced-based solutions. I will utilize the resources of organizations like Portsmouth Behavioral Health to provide wraparound solutions that include mental health components. I will work with organizations like the sheriff department, the police department, the department of the commonwealth attorney, and others to provide and create wholistic approaches and solutions to the violence that plagues our cities.