Johnson: ‘No hollow promises’

Published 2:20 am Sunday, November 4, 2012

By Linda Johnson

With just a couple of days until the election, I am certain the last thing people want to hear is more political pandering. After months of being inundated with advertisements, articles and speeches designed to mislead and exaggerate, I know our citizens have had enough, as I have.

I believe Suffolk citizens are educated and informed and are not interested in hollow promises that cannot possibly be kept post election.

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I am confident our citizens recognize that every service comes with a price that is directly connected to the taxes they pay. As such, any candidate who promises to “fully fund this” and “fully fund that” while also committing to cap or lower taxes and fees is being disingenuous at best.

Our citizens deserve much more credit than they are being given by my opponents. My opponent, Leroy Bennett, claims he did not vote for our current budget, but did. He claims to support public safety but did not support the previous budget that included 27 new firefighters and much-needed additions. Check the record.

What I offer our citizens is the truth, even when it is sometimes difficult to hear. This is how I have operated for the past 12 years on council and how I will continue to serve.

The truth is we have a very well run city that has continued to grow and flourish, even in the hardest of economic times. This did not happen by accident, nor was this always the case.

This city council has put into place sound financial policies that guide us to ensure fiscal responsibility and accountability. It is because of these efforts that Suffolk is able to maintain the second lowest tax rate in Hampton Roads, all while significantly improving the quality of life and our bond rating and cutting costs for our citizens.

The truth is we have a good management team in place. They are dedicated and responsive. Some have tried to make it seem that cooperation between council and staff is a negative. I make no apologies for the strong working relationship and spirit of cooperation that allows everyone to focus their best efforts on improving our city, rather than being paralyzed by gridlock.

It was because of that success we were able to effectively handle the aftermath of a tornado, the brink of SPSA’s bankruptcy, a national economic crisis and the disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

As a team, we have secured $711 million of new capital investment from the private sector, created 5,173 jobs and added 250 new or expanded diverse businesses, both downtown and citywide. We have made significant investments in education and public safety. Most importantly we have planned for our future.

The truth is I am very proud of what we have accomplished working together with our community partners. We have reached goals some never thought possible.

Suffolk’s progress has not gone unnoticed. Just two short years ago, Suffolk was selected as one of the Top 100 Small Cities to Live by CNN Money Magazine. Just weeks ago they placed Suffolk on their list, “Where the Jobs Are.”

When you vote on Tuesday, please remember that I did not make hollow promises and that I have a strong vision for the future of Suffolk. I promise to continue to listen, keep you informed, and make the best decisions I can for all that I serve.

As your mayor, I will always give you the truth. I believe you deserve it. It is an honor to serve as your mayor, a responsibility I take very seriously.

I humbly ask for your support,

Linda Johnson is the incumbent mayor of Suffolk and the first to be directly elected to that position.