Two square off for council seat

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, October 23, 2010

Suffolk voters in four different boroughs will choose City Council representatives during the Nov. 2 election. A race for the Suffolk borough seat on City Council features Alvin Copeland challenging one-term incumbent Charles Parr.

Alvin Copeland

Alvin Copeland, a lifelong resident of Suffolk, was a naval inspector for the Department of Defense for 31 years. He completed a four-year apprentice program at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. He spent two years on the Planning Commission and is a trustee at his church, Healing Chapel Baptist.

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Copeland says his former employment qualifies him to be an effective City Council member.


“I’m going to bring a whole lot of experience,” Copeland said. “I dealt with multi-million dollar contracts that were awarded to private contractors that I was in charge of. I am highly trained to detect waste.”

Copeland said he will bring his training “here to the city and do the same thing to save taxpayers’ dollars.”

“There’s a whole lot of waste that can be detected,” he said, though he declined to elaborate on where he thinks the city is currently wasting money. “Once I’m elected, I’m going to straighten that out.”

Copeland also has been advocating for more citizen involvement while on the campaign trail. He says he has a panel of community leaders from each community in his borough to help him represent the people.

“I am just simply their representative who will take their voices downtown to be heard,” he said. “I think … the residents should have input as to who and what moves in and around their community in its entirety. The current council is not involving people in their decision making.”

One decision Copeland feels was disastrous was the rezoning for the massive CenterPoint project on U.S. Route 58. The 58 corridor cannot handle the traffic it will be getting in the coming decades, he said.

“The only way that traffic pattern’s going to be solved is an extension on the bypass,” Copeland said. “The next large business that wants to come in there, they’re going to have to be willing to put up some money so we can do the real fix.”

Copeland fears for the safety of residents — especially children — if a traffic fix is not instituted, he said.

“I don’t want those school buses going down there with that type of traffic with those commercial vehicles,” Copeland said.

He also pledged to help lift the morale in the city “because the morale among the workers and the residents is down,” he said.

Finally, Copeland pledged to create better conditions for public servants to improve public safety and education.

“Suffolk will no longer be the training grounds for other cities when it comes to our police officers, our firefighters and our educators,” Copeland said. “The criminals will set up shop in the city that has the weakest police department. We’ve got to strengthen our police department.”

Charles Parr

Charles Parr is the owner of Parr Funeral Home and belongs to several professional organizations for funeral directors. He serves as the city’s liaison to the Economic Development Authority and the Western Tidewater Regional Jail Authority.

In his first term on City Council, Parr says, he helped trim costs, complete projects and create a more accountable government.


“We’ve been a more effective, efficient and accountable council and city government,” Parr said. “This administration is going to keep moving forward, and we’re going to get projects done.”

When Parr was first elected in 2006, the city was wasting a lot of money and in a financial shambles, he said. It also had to bear the burden of responding to an expensive natural disaster in April 2008.

“Our response to that tornado was incredible,” Parr said, referring to the 2008 twister that ripped through the city. “That was a natural disaster, but we also had a financial tornado when I went into office.”

Since then, the credit rating has improved and additional businesses and industries have set up shop in the city, Parr said.

“We’ve decided as a council and as a city we’re going to be an ‘A’ player,” Parr said. “When it was time to make the decisions, we made those.”

Parr also highlighted a number of projects that have been completed since 2006.

“We’ve taken projects that have been on the books for years and we’ve finished them,” he said. “Numerous projects have been completed in probably one of the worst economic times you’ve ever wanted to see in your life.”

If the voters give him four more years, Parr has a list of financial goals and projects he’d still like to see come to fruition.

“It will be a continuation of what I’ve done in my last four and a half years,” Parr said. “I’d like to see the city go to a triple-A rating. I’d like to see some projects [done], which I know is going to happen.”

On Parr’s list for future projects are a city museum and an outlet mall or shopping center complex in the southern end of the city. Plus, he supports the creation of the Mattanock Town village by the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

“I think that’s a huge, huge tourist attraction,” he said of the Indian project. “There’s so much you can connect.”

Parr’s philosophy on where to put a new elementary school to serve students in the southern end of the city is simple.

“I’m in favor of it being on the 58 corridor,” he said, a decision he is basing on economic growth. “You can’t just look at what today is. You have to look 50 and 60 years down the road.”