Barclay seeks to enhance ‘quality of life’

Published 9:21 pm Saturday, October 13, 2012

Each Sunday through Oct. 28, the Suffolk News-Herald will introduce you to the candidates for local City Council offices.

Today, we feature candidates for the Nansemond borough. Incumbent Robert Barclay faces a challenge from Lue Ward.

Sleepy Hole borough candidates will be featured on Oct. 21, with mayoral candidates on Oct. 28.


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Councilman Robert Barclay is seeking his second term on City Council.

The Portsmouth native who graduated from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in 1978 says his priority is enhancing quality of life, whether it’s through education, public safety, economic development or saving taxpayers money.

Barclay was the only one to run for election four years ago to fill the borough seat being vacated by Linda Johnson, who won the race to be the first directly-elected mayor. The borough has changed in shape and in name since then, but Barclay said he’s committed to representing all the citizens of the new Nansemond borough.


After graduation from NSA, Barclay studied history at the University of Virginia. He then worked in then-Gov. Chuck Robb’s office and worked for a variety of state and national political candidates.

He then attended law school at UVA and entered the service for five years in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, serving in places such as Bahrain and the Philippines.

Barclay now practices law with Cooper, Spong & Davis, specializing in corporate, real estate and land use issues. He has served on the Portsmouth Planning Commission and the Virginia Port Authority board.

Among his first-term accomplishments, Barclay lists job creation, an anti-gang police team in North Suffolk and several bond rating upgrades that he says have saved taxpayers $26 million, quoting the estimate of a city financial adviser.

“It’s important to me to protect and enhance the quality of life in Suffolk,” Barclay said. “In the last four years, the city has had a very good record of creating jobs and economic development in the midst of a recession. We’re ending up with more jobs at the old JFCOM facility.”

Barclay cited the CNN Money Magazine listing of Suffolk as the ninth-best U.S. city for job growth as proof that the city’s job market is booming.

Also on the economic front, Barclay cited the city’s tax rate, second-lowest in the region, as a quality of life issue.

The anti-gang Neighborhood Enforcement Team for North Suffolk also was created during Barclay’s term. The team targets gang activity and has proven effect, Barclay said.

“It’s clearly had a big effect. It’s running the gang activity out of North Suffolk,” he said.

On the topic of education, Barclay said he did not agree with the initial budget proposal this year because of education funding. He ended up supporting the revised version after education funding was increased.

“To me, these are all important quality of life issues,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed serving the people of Suffolk,” he said. “I wish to continue to serve.”