Time to replace unresponsive council

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

To the editor:

The mayor and City Council have continually broken trust with the citizens they are supposed to represent, and they need to be replaced by folks who understand the present economy.

We have elected folks who spend without a thought about the hardworking folks whose money they are spending. Witness the 14-percent increase in salary for the city manager, when those of us who pay the city’s bills wonder whether we’ll have a job next month. Witness the contrast between the planned increase of 2 to 3 percent for teachers against the actual increases for the city manager and her staff.

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What I see is the mayor urging council members to get along, which to me means, “Go along with my vision of Suffolk and don’t worry about your constituents. They will forget all this by the next election.”

A large warehouse was recently built on farmland off Route 58. But the 35 jobs supposedly created don’t come close to the jobs lost by the three restaurants closed because of lack of attention to our downtown by City Council, especially from Charles Parr, who is supposed to be representing downtown Suffolk but is so busy writing letters of praise for his close friend, the mayor, that he maybe doesn’t have time to look after the folks.

Our rural representatives, Jeff Gardy and Curtis Milteer, seem to have forgotten to look after their constituents, who prefer a rural lifestyle that is rapidly dying. What about the 20 small bridges that need to be replaced so farmers can legally move their equipment to the fields? I haven’t heard a peep from council on that one.

A while back, Suffolk published a glowing 2011 economic activity report, and Economic Development Authority Chairman J. Harold Faulk wrote a letter to this newspaper telling us how great a job they were doing and describing the buildings and jobs being brought to the area.

Both pieces totally ignored the 77,000 acres of farmland producing a substantial amount of economic growth and well being in Suffolk. Put in perspective, there is more land under cultivation in Suffolk than in any other Hampton Roads community. Yet there was no outcry from our rural councilmen about the oversight.

The good news is it’s not too late to make the changes we need. In fact, it is a good time to begin planning and laying the groundwork for a new, fiscally responsive council and mayor. We need some young people to consider running for these seats.

It doesn’t take a lot of money. One of our newest council members spent a paltry sum and still was elected. He connected with the people in his borough, and I believe he plans to spend our money wisely, as though it were his own.

The most recently re-elected mayor and council members were elected by the slimmest of margins. They continue to govern from the back room, out of the sunlight. They are very vulnerable and need to be replaced.

John Gasser