Martin Thomas is a candidate for Norfolk 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.
Candidate: Martin Thomas Jr.
Race: Norfolk City Council
Website: Martin Thomas, Norfolk Councilman
Biography: Martin A. Thomas Jr. was elected to represent Ward 1 on Aug. 23 2016. He was elected vice mayor in July 2018.
Thomas is a partner at the Decker Law Firm in downtown Norfolk where he has litigated person injury cases since 2006. He is a member of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. He currently serves on the Greater Wards Corner Task Force. Thomas served on the Norfolk Planning Commission from April 2011 through August 2016 and on the Norfolk Architectural Review Board from April 2014 through August 2016.
Thomas presently serves on the Board of Peter Decker Children’s Charity which focuses on raising money to help sick children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, and others. He was recently appointed to the Board of the Virginia College Building Authority by former Gov. Ralph Northam. Thomas served 10 years on the Wards Corner Civic League Board and is a founding member of Wards Corner Now.
Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) and State University in 2002 and graduated from the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law in 2006.
He resides with his wife, Maggie, and their two sons in the Wards Corner area of Norfolk.
Why should residents elect you to City Council?
The very first month I moved to Norfolk I emailed James English, the Wards Corner Civic League president, and told him I wanted to get involved. That was 2005. Since then, I have dedicated years of my life fighting alongside other neighborhood activists to make my neighborhood, and every neighborhood in Norfolk, a better place to live, work and play.
In my early days as a champion of Wards Corner we cleaned up the drug and crime ridden “Texas Streets,” which resulted in significant redevelopment in the Wards Corner business district. As the councilman for Ward 1, I have successfully championed increases in pay for public safety employees, increased the number of restaurants in Ward 1, started an SMS notification system for trains at the Hampton Boulevard crossing, brought in MetroNet — an Internet competitor to Cox — completed an Urban Area Study of Wards Corner, completed/implemented a Glenwood Park Hampton Boulevard Safety Plan, continually funded the Willougby Conservation Fund, and we are in the process of a significant investment in Northside Park and a new-and-improved Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center, which will include a library.
If re-elected, I will continue to champion the above ongoing projects through completion and champion new projects and plans to make life better for every Ward 1 resident.
What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?
Public Safety: Post-pandemic we have seen an increase in crime nationwide and here in Norfolk. We must have a world-class police force. We need to pay our public safety officers well and create a culture and environment where they can thrive, be respected, and serve the public. We have that opportunity beginning with a new police chief likely being hired this fall.
Education: In 2022, Norfolk City Council took the unprecedented step of committing to over $700 million in capital improvements for the school system. That will include new schools to be built all over the city, including Ward 1. Council must continue to work with the Norfolk School Board to address the needs of the teachers, students, and facilities.
Economic Development: The city budget and city services rely on a robust and healthy local economy. Norfolk is the economic engine that drives this region, and we must continue to attract and retain well-paying jobs to benefit our residents and our economy. One growth sector that we are currently focusing on is the expansion of the offshore wind industry here in Norfolk. As a representative to the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (the Alliance), I am pushing for the region to put more effort and energy into attracting higher paying jobs of $150,000 or more. This is an initiative recommended by a multi-year study commissioned by the Alliance and performed by IBM.
What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?
Inflation is the most pressing economic issue in my community. The increasing prices of goods and services are outpacing salaries and wages. See my comments above about my push for jobs that pay greater than $150,000 at the Alliance.
What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Flooding: Norfolk, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers, has just kicked off a decade-long, multi-phase approach to building flood walls, flood barriers, sea walls, and berms that will protect the city from Broad Creek to downtown, the entire Lafayette River basin, and Pretty Lake from sea level and tidal flooding. In total this will likely cost more than $1.7 billion. I am, and will continue, to work with our partners in Richmond to help find funding matches for the portion that the federal government will not cover.
How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?
Gun violence has increased post-pandemic and is unfortunately affecting every neighborhood in Norfolk. Most of that gun violence involves stolen guns. I am advocating for joint training between the police and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office so that those criminals who are caught with stolen guns can be arrested, prosecuted appropriately and efficiently, and sent to prison. I have confirmed that we have plenty of room in our jails to hold those who continue to terrorize our neighborhoods.