Batton runs ‘to give back’

Published 8:46 pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

Raymond Batton says he’s running for the Sleepy Hole borough seat to give back to his community.

“I know it may sound corny, but I want to give back,” he said.

Batton said he grew up poor and “in the projects.” He became an emancipated adult while he was in 10th grade.

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“I’ve been successful to get myself out of that,” he said. “It’s a different set of values. People don’t realize when you’re struggling for food, it changes the way you look at things.”


Batton said his upbringing has given him the temperament to be able to handle local government.

“You’ve got to be able to work with others when adversity hits,” he said. “I think I have the ability to work with whoever’s there, but not be a chameleon.”

Batton is a U.S. Navy veteran who served 11 years on submarines. He now manages a Jani-King franchise in Portsmouth and serves as president of the Virginia Aviation Council, which presents the Festival of Flight every year. The growing fly-in moved to the Suffolk airport a few years ago.

As a businessman, he touts partnerships with businesses as a method of getting resources for the schools.

“That’s my forte,” he said. “I’m a businessman, not a politician.”

Batton said he believes the School Board and City Council need to work more closely. He said he recently asked teachers if council members ever visited their schools, and they laughed at him.

“We need to come to the common ground,” he said. “We need to be there. We need to be involved. If the School Board is hampering that, we need to work together. Let’s try to find out the things that are really needed.”

He pointed out that the schools affect other areas of life.

“People are not going to bring businesses here if the schools are bad,” he said. “We’ve got to keep going to improve them.”

Batton said he would be against raising taxes without first cutting costs. He also said he would not be in favor of pay raises unless they started form the bottom and worked up.

“I’d have a mutiny on my hands” if he gave himself a raise without giving his employees one, he said.

Making the city more user-friendly for businesses should also be a priority, he said.

“We have to be streamlined,” he said. “We have to have a city that invites businesses to come in.”

Batton also said city government should be more accessible.

“The public has got to be able to get a hold of you,” he said.

Responding to criticism about his business not being in Suffolk, Batton said he would love to move it to Suffolk if he owned it, but it’s only a franchise that he manages for Jani-King, he said.

“I don’t have any type of agenda,” he said. “I’m just trying to give back.”