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Hampton Roads Mayors Talk Region's Future

By Amanda Morad | March 18, 2013

Before a crowd of 425 at Regent University's Executive Leadership Series luncheon, the leaders of South Hampton Roads' five cities gathered on Monday, March 18, to discuss their vision and outlook for the future of Virginia's first and largest region.

Dr. Alan Krasnoff, mayor of Chesapeake; Paul Fraim, mayor of Norfolk; Kenneth Wright, mayor of Portsmouth; Linda Johnson, mayor of Suffolk; and William Sessoms, mayor of Virginia Beach, participated.

The event theme was "Hampton Roads Exceptionalism," and the topics of discussion centered on sequestration, education and transportation. All three of these hot-button issues have become major rally points for Hampton Roads' leadership in the last year.

On sequestration, the five mayors agreed that coping with defense cuts through economic diversity is the way to keep the region moving forward. Taking advantage of new opportunities in technology, transportation and medicine will give Hampton Roads the best chance at growth through this challenging time, they agreed.

On education, though the needs of each city differ, each mayor expressed their commitment to public schools as a key to the future growth of the region.

On transportation, each mayor celebrated the recent passage of a bill by the Virginia General Assembly, which raises funds for an overhaul of the state's transportation systems, and committed to making sure the region gets its fair share. Also addressed were issues surrounding tolls on the Midtown tunnel in Portsmouth, the Tide light rail coming to Virginia Beach, and the Patriot's Crossing proposal between Norfolk and the Peninsula.

Each mayor gave a statement regarding his or her position on these three topics in the respective cities, as well as the region as a whole.

Krasnoff served five consecutive terms in Chesapeake's City Council beginning 1990 and was elected mayor in May 2008. He previously served as director of the Chesapeake Juvenile Advisory Board and is a practicing chiropractor.

Norfolk native Fraim has been a member of Norfolk City Council since 1986 and has served as mayor of Norfolk since July 1994. He began a private law practice more than 40 years ago and is president of the law firm Fraim and Fiorella, P.C.

Suffolk's first female mayor, Johnson, was appointed by her colleagues on Suffolk's City Council in 2006 and sworn in as the city's first directly elected mayor in January 2009. Previously, she served as the public information officer for the State Corporation Commission in Richmond and eligibility officer for the Suffolk Department of Social Services.

Wright was elected mayor of Portsmouth on November 2, 2010, and took office two days later. Born and raised in Portsmouth, he is the president and CEO of Wright's Engineering.

Sessoms, a native of Virginia Beach, began his political career in 1988 as an at-large member of the Virginia Beach City Council. In 2008, he was elected mayor. Sessoms has worked with numerous local and regional organizations, including the Life Saving Museum of Virginia, the American Heart Association, the Norfolk State University Foundation and the Tidewater Regional Transit Authority.

This marks the fifth year that Regent's ELS has hosted local elected officials for a Mayors Forum. Held each month, ELS brings together businessmen and women in Hampton Roads to hear from business and leadership experts.

Visit the ELS website for more information about upcoming speakers.


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