Bredemeyer: ‘There’s a problem’Published 6:22pm Saturday, October 27, 2012
Art Bredemeyer says he’s running for mayor to introduce a “change agent.”
“I’m not the guy who’s been there 16 years, or the mayor, who’s been there for 12 years,” he said, referring to his two opponents.
Bredemeyer served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. While there, he helped establish U.S. Joint Forces Command and finished up his military career as the chief of operations law and international law for Air Combat Command during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary School of Law and has a background in public administration and tax law, he said. Right now, he specializes in advocating for seniors in the Suffolk law firm of Eure & Bredemeyer PLLC.
Bredemeyer was appointed by the governor to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District Commission, and the Suffolk City Council appointed him as its representative on the Craney Island Study Commission, as well as to the now-defunct Suffolk Airport Commission.
He’s also the chairman of the Suffolk Democratic Committee, though candidates for local positions do not run on party affiliations.
Bredemeyer said he almost ran for mayor four years ago but decided not to do so. This year, after seeing the budget debacle that resulted when proposals for 21-percent raises for City Council appointees were buried in the spending plan, he decided to run.
“I’ve been watching over the last four to six years increases in taxes and fees, and no reductions in spending,” Bredemeyer said. “I’ve always had an interest in politics, and I’m not getting any younger.”
The fiasco over raises for certain employees revealed a problem at city hall, whether or not City Council members knew about the proposal beforehand, Bredemeyer said.
“If council says, ‘We didn’t know about it,’” there’s a problem downtown,” he said. “If they didn’t know, it was a problem, and if they did know, there’s a problem.”
Bredemeyer said he favors term limits and hopes his run will impose that on his opponents.
“I think one of the products of being in office too long is you get co-opted by the staff,” he said. “Somebody has to be questioning and challenging what they do. Government naturally will expand to spend the money it has or can get a hand on.”
Bredemeyer said he is a “fiscal conservative” and will look for cuts in spending before raising people’s taxes.
He hopes to work with small businesses to improve their quality of life. He would support hiring a downtown development coordinator position once again.
“(Small businesses) have told me they have difficulties with the city and have to get their councilman involved if they want any assistance,” he said. “It’s making them think twice about whether this is the place to do business.”
Bredemeyer also said the city needs to diversify industries.
Though the city has trumpeted more than 1,000 new jobs at the former U.S. Joint Forces Command site, Bredemeyer said, Suffolk should be wary of relying too much on defense spending.
“I think it’s disingenuous to talk like those jobs are going to be here forever, and they couldn’t move tomorrow,” he said.