Sunday, June 29, 2008

Will Sessoms: Banking On Residents Having Short Memories

Will Sessoms put his Mayoral announcement speech on his website, from which I've printed and downloaded it. If you lived through Sessoms tenure as Vice Mayor, parts of it are laughable.

1. "It's time to actually develop and implement an economic development plan in order to reduce the tax burden on homeowners."

During Sessoms tenure as Vice Mayor, the Department of Economic Development (DED) was drastically underfunded.

2. "There hasn't been such a plan since I left City Council."

At the 2002 City Council Retreat (less than two months after Sessoms left office), one of the two hottest debates: the need to do more for economic development that what was being done.

3. "I intend to actively participate in the meetings to bring more business to the community." you can steer the public-private partnerships to your buddies?

4. "Homeowners have been paying too much for too long."

Yeah, and as Vice Mayor, Sessoms regularly blew off those asking for Property Tax relief.

5. "With energy prices moving the way they are, it's time to revisit light rail specifically and mass transit generally."

Great policy! The hitch: in 2001, Sessoms - as Vice Mayor and a HRT Commissioner - presided over a large reduction in Virginia Beach's bus service.

6. "It's time to elect a Mayor with a history of listening to everyone, including everyone and reaching consensus to move forward."

That would disqualify Sessoms. When he was Vice Mayor, you would go into a Public Hearing knowing he already had 6 votes locked up for his position.

7. "Tonight, we are the underdog in this race."

Probably has something to do with Sessoms' atrocious track record....

8. "The pundits think that this campaign lacks the grassroots support to accomplish a wave of change in Virginia Beach."

Given that Sessoms and his allies on Council sought to marginalize the grassroots, no wonder.

9. "They doubt our understanding and sensitivity to how disenfranchised and disappointed the citizens of Virginia Beach feel towards their leaders".

I'll take Sessoms seriously on "disenfranchisement" when he comes out for a ward system. Most of what opportunities we have for resident input (i.e. Open Mic, Town Hall meetings, etc) didn't get rolling until after Sessoms left City Council.

The bottom line

This speech from a pro-resident newcomer would be very welcome. Coming from Sessoms, it's Orwellian.

Let's hope that if he does win, we get the above promises instead of his track record as Vice Mayor.


Michael Ragsdale said...

"5. "With energy prices moving the way they are, it's time to revisit light rail specifically and mass transit generally."

Great policy! The hitch: in 2001, Sessoms - as Vice Mayor and a HRT Commissioner - presided over a large reduction in Virginia Beach's bus service."

That right there says everything I need

Anonymous said...

Henry: You hit the nail on the head! A very well written post and I couldn't have asked for a better review. The words are so disingenuous when you consider his past history as Vice Mayor.

The good news is: there are several more points we'll talk to him about at a later date! Example: You didn't mention that Sessoms has written several letters to the Editor supporting our old Emergency Medical Services programs claiming that it was a great system. The only problem was city council (after Sessoms left office and couldn't hide the facts) had to spend eight million dollars+ and hire many dozens of employees to "fix" his wonderful EMS staffing failures. I can't wait to publicly ask him those questions and point out the facts in the media and at debates between the candidates. That will be a lot of fun…

I don't believe Sessoms can win this race. Frankly I've spoken with many folks who readily admit they have given Sessoms donations to run his race but have no intention of voting for him. As I hear it, they are just protecting their interests just in case he happens to win a long shot. It seems the oceanfront community wants more control over the rest of the city budget and to reduce spending at Town Center. I guess we can’t really blame them for that if they happen to be an oceanfront hotel, restaurant or business owner.

It is easy to see the Sessoms was BAD for VB as vice Mayor. Given his poor prior record, I don't know why he would even bother to run in 2008. Yes the oceanfront north end types love him however those folks are the minority voters in November 2008 election. No more will it be the same16% or 17% group of voters choosing the winners. For the first time, the regular working class taxpayers will pick the winners that will take the seats in January 2009. Hiding from the voters since 2002 has done little to improve his polling numbers or reduce his negative image with the citizens and voters of VB.

Mike Barrett said...

Ragsdale's criticism of Sessom's announcement totally misses the point; Sessoms fully understands the value to the tax base and the tax rate from public investment in partnerships with the private sector.

Had these investments not been made in the past, we would have a tax rate at least $0.10 higher than we do know, and we would not have the right to anticipate even greater revenue from these projects when they are fully paid off.

Ragsdale simply repeats the same old mantra from the populist web sites that we should cut, cut, cut, which ignores the fact that support for local government has seriously been curtailed by the General Assembly, and if we are to provide for the needs and wants of our citizens, we must grow the tax base.

It is important to view Sessoms candidacy through a wider perspective than shown by Ragsdale. Sessoms has a long and distinguished of getting things done behind the scenees; it is time to acknowledge that leadership involves more than showing up to take crddit.

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Bill! You've succeeded in blathering on longer than Reid.

It took you 4 long paragraphs to say "I'm supporting incumbents again"

Avenging Archangel said...


Ragsdale's only comment was about the bus service cuts - which he opposed.

Nobody in this thread has called for cuts - yet. The point I made, and that William agreed with, is that Sessoms' announcement runs counter to what he actually did in office before.

If he turns over a new leaf, we're better off for it. However, his record as Vice Mayor makes it hard to take his platform at face value.

Michael Ragsdale said...

thanks henry

That was the only point I was making: transit system cuts

Anonymous said...

Thanks you Brian for not disputing my comments. That point is not to be missed by the readers of this blog.

Frankly I have a lot to say when it comes to Sessoms failures while he was Vice Mayor and his many years on city council. His record will not change if he was elected Mayor as he directly contributed to VB getting BRAC'd and the expenditure of tens of millions by our current Mayor to try to save NAS Oceana. She is still trying to clean up his mess...

And I'm surprised that Mike has dumped on Mayor Oberndorf as he and his business interests always seem to be treated well by the Mayor and council. I don't expect he'll find the same reaction following the November election.

Anonymous said...

"Thank" you would be the correct use of the english language... Proof reading BEFORE posting should be the final step. Sorry!

Unknown said...

Bill, I'm not interested in disputing your comments. I just laugh as I know you've supported Council members in the past with the exact same record as Sessoms.

The difference? They were incumbents.

Anonymous said...

Brian: That is an interesting comment. I'd like you to show me the voting record of the person who has the same voting record as Sessoms. As far as my records show, there is nobody I've ever supported with the same record as Sessoms.

And just so you have the proper information: I never supported any candidate in any VB race prior to July 1 2001. I'll wait while you try to find a name... Good luck...

Anonymous said...

If I had the energy I'd take back my "balther award" from William and post a long Messnereque (tips hat to Henry) diatribe/rant, but it is late and I need to head home .. . so .. MOSS $ MAYOR in '08! Forget Will Sessoms, he's already shown his hand. The fact that Mike Barrett supports Will is proof enough for me that Will is wrong for our city.


Avenging Archangel said...

I respect John Moss, but he doesn't seem to grasp that his own VBTA frontbenchers are his biggest liability. They scare the crap out of anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. Moss will finish 4th.

The wildcard is Scott Taylor. Can he connect with enough people who are tired of the retreads? If so, he might make a tight three-way out of this.