Mark Hugel is a candidate for Portsmouth 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: Mark Hugel
Race: Portsmouth City Council
Biography: Rear Admiral Mark Hugel, USN (retired) was born and raised in a midwestern town of 60,000 — Mansfield, Ohio. His dad was a plumber, and his mom write commercial insurance policies. They taught him the importance of integrity and the value of hard work. He and his wife, Luana, married in 1979 and have two grown children who attended Portsmouth Public Schools in their early years. The Hugel’s have been homeowners in Portsmouth since 1986 and chose to return here after retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2009.
- High school class valedictorian
- Bachelor of science degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977
- Master of science degree in Naval architecture and marine engineering and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992
- Commissioned into the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program, serving aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and a guided missile cruiser
- Surface Warfare Officer and navy Engineering Duty Officer
- Served in acquisition, shipbuilding, and ship maintenance tours in Newport News and at Norfolk Naval Shipyard — in his third tour of duty at Norfolk Naval Shipyard he became the 100th Shipyard Commander
- Promoted to Rear Admiral and served on the Chief of Naval Operations staff in the Pentagon
- Deputy Commander for logistics, maintenance, and industrial operations at the Naval Sea Systems Command, where he oversaw more than 26,000 civil service employees in the nation’s shipyards
- Currently a senior vice president at CACI International, Inc. where he was selected to lead CACI’s Norfolk office
- Represented Portsmouth on the Tidewater Community College board of directors
- Volunteer board of directors member for the Up Center and Starbase Victory
- Serving on the Portsmouth Mayor’s Military Affairs Committee and the Portsmouth Public Schools Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee
- National president of the American Society of Naval Engineers
Why should residents elect you to City Council?
Our citizens must be able to trust the people they elect to serve them. Trust emanates from integrity and when I say “Service with Integrity” it is more than a campaign slogan — it’s my commitment to our community, if I am elected. I have been in leadership roles for over 45 years, and I was recognized by the Franklin Covey Institute back in 2003 for my principle-centered leadership while serving as Shipyard Commander at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
In addition to integrity as a foundational principle, I am committed to the principles of responsibility, collaboration, and diversity. These are principles I have learned and lived by during my 32 years of active duty service in the Navy and during my 11 years in industry since my military retirement.
I was commissioned into Admiral Hyman Rickover’s nuclear Navy and this excerpt from his testimony to Congress reflected his expectations from each of us regarding responsibility: “Responsibility is a unique concept; it may only reside and inhere in a single individual … Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.”
My commitment to Portsmouth is to act responsibly to the needs of our community, to collaborate with leaders and members of our community, and to leverage the diversity in our community to the betterment of Portsmouth. I am committed to be respectful to others. I believe in service with integrity.
What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?
- Public safety is my top priority. All Portsmouth citizens should be safe at home, at work, at school, and in public. Any actions taken to solve the other issues that confront us will fail to be effective if our citizens are not safe in our city. I will work with our police department, our sheriff’s department, our social services department, and our mental health department to confront crime in a holistic, efficient manner.
- Investing in our children is priority number two. We must invest in our children to prepare them for, and encourage them to, compete for the career jobs available here locally. Creating the hope that completing high school or college will lead to careers is key to keeping all our kids engaged to earn their high school diplomas. I will work with our public school system, our school board, our students, and the business community to ensure that our students will get the education, support, and appropriate training to create school-to-employment successes for our children.
- Employment leading to careers is my third top priority. Portsmouth and the Hampton Roads region have good jobs available, but local employers must often recruit outside the area because our citizens often haven’t been prepared with the trade skills to compete for and win the available good jobs. Our school system and local government must partner with the business community to create efficient and cost-effective training and educational opportunities so that our citizens have opportunities to learn the skills necessary to enter these career fields.
What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?
Attracting new businesses to Portsmouth is needed for the economy to grow. The biggest obstacles to attracting businesses to Portsmouth our unsafe streets, our lack of sufficient numbers of skilled workers, and instability in Portsmouth government.
My top three priorities are aimed to address safety in our streets and developing our citizens into a skilled workforce that entices employers to move here because we offer the kind of skilled workers they want to employ. My decision to run for office is based solely on my believe that if our voters give me a chance, my leadership experience can help to stabilize the Portsmouth leadership team so that business owners come to view Portsmouth as a community where they want to move or establish their businesses.
What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Portsmouth’s water, sewer, and storm sewer infrastructure is aging-out and unreliable in many parts of the city. The city is currently doing some infrastructure refurbishments, but is concurrently applying inefficient and costly band-aids to broken down sewer pumping stations and has taken some of our water tours out of service that are overdue for corrective maintenance.
Resources must be earmarked to assess the condition of these services and then we must build and execute a long-term plan to revitalize them. Our long-term infrastructure plan needs to get back in front of these issues, and that will require us to prioritize investments in infrastructure revitalization rather than divert money collected for water, sewer, and storm sewer services to pay general fund bills.
How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?
Portsmouth is suffering as much as more than most communities from gun violence and the victims gun violence creates.
I have participated in several Portsmouth Police Department’s R.E.S.E.T. walks, visiting the neighborhoods where homicides have occurred. Unfortunately, I have spoken with neighbors who seem to accept that they just have to live with gun violence in their communities. We must take back our neighborhoods. This is complicated issue that requires a multi-faceted approach.
- We need to address public safety team compensation to recruit, hire, and retain our police, sheriff, firefighter, paramedic, and dispatch personnel and fill the vacant, funded positions on our public safety teams. That will require addressing pay compression so that our experienced people don’t leave out of frustration with a pay scale that doesn’t account for years of experience and good performance. It will require providing stability in leadership, from the city manager to the public safety leadership, and through the upper leadership in the public safety team. Additionally, our police force should be aided with technology — aided by systems like ShotSpotter and Flock Safety that not only monitor for shots fired, but also can provide camera coverage and license plate identification to alert police to incursion by criminal who don’t live in our city, but come here to commit crimes and cause trouble.
- We need to listen to and support members of our community who have credibility with the kids who are consistently in trouble. Those that have a plan to engage our kids by modeling good behaviors and offering alternative activities to keep the kids busy in healthy activities should receive the resources they need to help our kids. But — no plan, no money — these groups and their activities must fit into a holistic approach to get kids into activities that help them develop life and employment skills.
- We need to listen to our neighbors who are being directly impacted by violence on our streets — they know what’s going on and, by listening to their ideas, we can implement ideas that will make a difference. Our civic leagues have an important role to play — not only to surface gripes from neighbors to city hall, but also to encourage neighbors to work together and restore pride in their neighborhoods.
- We need our churches to engage and support families who are struggling to hold their kids accountable to choose right from wrong. It truly takes a village.
- We need to help those who are living at or below the poverty line to get trained and hired into better jobs – jobs that lead to careers with better pay, better benefits, hope for a better future. Leveraging the skills training possibilities in our high schools and at TCC, we should offer retraining opportunities that allow folks who want career opportunities to have those opportunities.