Norfolk City Council Ward 4: Candidates spotlight

·4 min read

Erik DeSean Barrett

Age: 38

Occupation: Social Media Creator

Previous office held: None

Education: None

What experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve on Norfolk City Council?

I’ve served the past five years in my community working closely with the Ohio Creek Project. My goal is to make sure everyone both understand what is happening, and that the city heard the feelings of the people.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you get it done?

I seek to be a huge advocate for access, bring awareness of opportunities, build stronger connections with citizens, promote creativity and engagement and create stronger bonds with our communities of faith.

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Phillip Hawkins, Jr.

Age: 52

Occupation: Educator and administrator, Norfolk City Public Schools

Previous office held: Former union president, Education Association of Norfolk; former civic league president; former member of the Norfolk Environmental Commission

Education: Norfolk State University, bachelor of science in business finance, 1992; Norfolk State University, master of arts in urban education, 2005.

What experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve on Norfolk City Council?

I am a lifelong resident and have more than 25 years of public and community service in Norfolk. The following experiences in public service have prepared me well to be ready to serve on the Norfolk City Council: Union President of the Education Association of Norfolk, First Vice President Norfolk Federation of Civic Leagues, Member of the Norfolk Environmental Commission, President of Ingleside Civic League, Life Member of the Norfolk State University Alumni Association, NAACP, Norfolk Public Schools, Educational Planning and School Facilities Committee, Virginia Department of Education Equity Taskforce, School Readiness Committee, Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Steering Committee. I have also served on advisory committees and delegations at the local, state and national levels.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you get it done?

If I am elected my top priority will be public safety with a strategic focus on protecting residents, businesses and visitors from gun violence and crime. Once we can address public safety, more citizens will want to live, work, and visit here. More businesses and higher paying jobs will come too.

My plan would start by building a strong, diverse coalition of grassroots organizations, civic leagues, businesses, elected officials and community stakeholders to organize efforts to help law enforcement fight crime. The city also needs to pay the police the highest salary in the region and to retain the existing force by increasing their pay. Better training and restoring relationships with citizens through community policing will be an essential part of the plan. I would work to ensure that Norfolk creates a Citizen Review Board, and that all citizens have input on selecting the next chief of police.

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John E. Paige

Age: 52

Occupation: Bail bondsman

Previous office held: None

Education: Norfolk State University, bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, 1995; Troy University, master of science in management, 1998.

What experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve on Norfolk City Council?

I have experienced all aspects of Norfolk in my lifetime. My athletic abilities gave me the opportunity to attend private schools which gave me the chance to interact with those that were outside of Norfolk. This allowed me to adopt the understanding that no one is better than anyone else. These unique experiences allow me to hold conversations with the homeless or one of the wealthiest citizens in Norfolk, on the same subject, and not deviate in the delivery of my message. This allows me to be a bridge as a point of balance for all in Norfolk and a point of inspiration for those that grew up as I did. I came up at a time where there was so much love in the city of Norfolk; somehow, we have to get back to that.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you get it done?

My top priority would be to address the violence in Ward 4 and across all of Norfolk. Being a bail bondsman for 20 years, along with many other experiences, has afforded me the ability to communicate clearly across the board with those from all walks of life and build relationships with an understanding of what’s going on in our community. I would first bring together the mothers of Norfolk who have lost children to gun violence so they may have an opportunity to talk and begin to heal. I would then implement a plan in collaboration with media outlets to teach our citizens credible information on what happens prior to the trigger being pulled, rather than just reporting where shootings are taking place. I would follow that up by working side by side with our educators to create conflict resolution training that would be integrated within our schools.