Important year ahead for Suffolk

Published 4:38 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

After a year of highs and lows for Suffolk, we hope that 2023 sets the course for enduring progress.

Successes in 2022 like the opening of a massive Amazon fulfillment center were undercut by an unacceptable wave of violent crime and city leaders’ blessing of a controversial warehousing monstrosity that left citizens in a collective funk.

It’s time to close that chapter and resolve to make the new year one of peace and prosperity.

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Suffolk’s success must begin with public safety. The run of violent crime, which continued to flare in 2022’s final week, is unacceptable and must be declared so by law enforcement, elected leadership, the faith community and the citizenry.

The response to date has been heavy on excuses and light on solutions. While the nation’s homicide rate declined in 2022, Suffolk became more violent, too many of its citizens killed and maimed, others fearful to leave their homes or places of employment without getting mugged.

Ingredients are in place for a safer 2023. Congress has approved significant funding for local law enforcement agencies nationwide, putting to rest the “defund the police” nonsense that damaged police-community relations for the better part of two years. Inflation, which strained household budgets and led to economic despair for many, has eased. Virginia, under the leadership of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, finally seems serious about addressing the mental health crisis that is the root of so many societal woes.

Economically, we hope the City Council and City Hall declare 2023 to be the year our community pivots away from warehousing as its development focus, creates a vision for what Suffolk should be and gets citizens excited again about their quality of life.

Suffolk has more than done its part for the Hampton Roads region and its port. City leaders must say unequivocally to state and regional leadership that we’re done “taking one for the team,” as happened with the Port 460 warehousing campus in the core of the city. And City Hall must demand state and federal funds for infrastructure improvements to handle the coming tsunami of yet more truck traffic.

Lastly, we hope to see less pettiness in 2023. Suffolk Public Schools have been especially susceptible, the tone set by a superintendent who’d rather pick silly fights than put his nose to the grindstone and make our public schools more successful and more accountable. A retooled School Board gives him that opportunity.