Local ballot takes shape

Published 10:12pm Saturday, May 3, 2014

With half a year until local elections and only a little more than five weeks until the ballots are set, candidates for City Council are gathering their paperwork and getting their names out to voters.

Some council watchers hope November’s elections will bring some new faces to City Council, citing opportunities to break up a perceived five-vote “team” that has remained intact since 2006.

“I believe the incumbents are non-responsive to the wishes of the citizens,” said council critic Chris Dove. “They seek to vote as a team, which is disturbing. The citizens have come to the realization that it is just a dog and pony show.”

Asked why they’re running, challengers to the incumbents invariably cite one word — change.

“We really need a change in the whole dynamic of City Council,” said Tim Johnson, who’s running for the Holy Neck seat. “I hope I can make a difference, and that’s the only reason I’m running.”

The incumbent in that seat is Jeffrey Gardy, who has not yet filed his paperwork and did not respond to a call to his office to ask if he plans to run. He and other candidates have until June 10 at 7 p.m. to submit the signatures of 125 qualified voters from their boroughs.

Two incumbents who are facing challengers say they hope the elections don’t bring any changes.

“I’m hoping that everything stays as is, because Suffolk really has done great things with the present council and city manager,” Vice Mayor Charles Brown said.

“I would hope that the core of the council would stay the same,” Suffolk borough representative Charles Parr said. “Competition’s good for everybody, but change for change’s sake is not always good. I’m of the belief that most people are happy and satisfied.”

Parr noted the city is better off financially than in 2006, has been able to attract private dollars to revitalize downtown and invest in other areas and kept its promise of no tax increase with this year’s proposed budget.

He’s facing a challenge from Don Goldberg, who has not yet filed his paperwork but affirmed he plans to run.

“I’m running because there’s a need for change,” said Goldberg, a former economic development director who now is director of real estate development with Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate. “There are some issues I’m going to present that I have some very strong feelings about.”

Brown is facing two challengers in his Cypress borough — Leroy Bennett, a former representative of the Nansemond borough who was drawn into Cypress during the 2012 redistricting process, and Clinton Jenkins.

“I think we need to have people that are listening to the people and have an open mind and not make decisions until they hear the concerns of the people,” Bennett said.

“I think it’s time for a change,” said Jenkins. “Right now, persons have a lack of trust in City Council, and they want to see change.”

The only member up for election who doesn’t yet have a rumored opponent, Mike Duman of the Chuckatuck borough, said he is interested to see what happens.

“I’m willing to work with whoever joins me on council,” he said. “I try to concentrate on the issue, not who’s associated with the issue.”

So far, only Duman, Tim Johnson and Parr have filed their paperwork.

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