Crime is out of control in Roanoke city. After watching my son lose a friend and football teammate to criminals who killed in cold blood, I decided it was time to do something more. Pulling from my 30+ years serving as a first responder who worked closely with Roanoke City Police, I have several immediate and realistic first steps that we can put into place on DAY ONE:
• We have technology available that cuts down on response times and saves lives. I propose installing gunshot detection equipment in troubled zones throughout the city.
• We need to set up satellite police stations in all four quadrants of the city. Again this will also cut down on wasted time. Police will no longer need to return to our only currently operating police station.
• Rebuild the police department starting with proper pay. Police staffing is down 65%. Current changes have proved ineffective. We need to take a deeper look into how our department is structured and create a lateral hiring program with sign-on bonuses.
• Revitalize task forces focused on gangs and drugs and create a regional gang task force comprised of all components of law enforcement.
Our children’s education has suffered greatly after nearly two years of virtual learning and academic setback. As a parent with two sons currently attending our local public school, I am FULLY invested in ensuring we are supplying our schools with the best resources and enrichment programs that Virginia has to offer. After all, providing a top-tier education is the best tool we can give our children, they are the future. Here are the steps I will take in order to fulfill this promise.
• Moving to an elected school board. As an active parent in Roanoke City Public Schools I believe parents deserve a say in their children’s education. That is why I support moving from an appointed school board to having an elected school board. In something so undeniably important as our children’s education, we need to ensure our community values are found in our classrooms. No more identity politics in our children’s education. Getting behind an agenda that best serves our students and supports our teachers should be non-partisan and a priority for our city council leaders.
• I am also the father of a special needs child. I have first-hand experience in dealing with the complicated and challenging uphill battle of trying to get the school resources necessary for a child with special needs. We need to increase the resources available in our public schools to better handle and support children with special needs and disabilities. If elected to city council, I will be an advocate for ALL students. I will work hard to highlight available resources that help guide parents with special needs as well as invest in programs that are needed to better care for our students with learning disabilities.
• I am concerned about the uptick in unprecedented high crime and drug use in and around our schools. Rescuing Roanoke should start where our next generation grows up – in our schools. We need to put in place programs like the DARE program. Installing influential early intervention practices that teaches good decision making is imperative to changing the course of crime in our neighborhoods. The program also communicates the dangerous consequential actions that result from drug use. Early intervention programs also provide strong role models and help to build positive relationships between our young students and our law enforcement. This is worth every cent of investment.
• We should be adding additional security in our school buildings with the hiring of multiple School Resource Officers (SROs) in our elementary, middle, and high schools to strengthen security. Given the current environment, I am disappointed that this hasn’t already happened for the protection of our children. The presence of SROs will not only add a layer of protection, but it will offer youth an avenue to reach out directly for help and influence from our law enforcement.
Surrounded by the beautiful mountain ranges of Southwest Virginia, downtown Roanoke is a one of a kind city. My wife and I love raising our sons in a place where so much natural beauty exists. From our interdependent neighborhoods with ample sidewalks to our historic downtown, Roanoke holds the uniquely small-town city feel that makes so much of what is Roanoke, Roanoke. But the high real estate property tax rate, the personal property assessment procedure, crime, homelessness, and the lack of road repairs are problems that have stalled our growth.
• Reduce the real estate tax and revisit the personal property assessment procedures. Families are already dealing with a 40 year high inflation and ever increasing cost of consumer goods. Our solution to city problems should not be to burden families with more taxes.
• Establish a schedule to repair our roads and share it with the public. Competitively contract the work and hold those we entrust with our tax dollars accountable. Your city council should care about getting things done for you quickly, transparently, and at the best price. Not just worry about their own personal expenses.
• Create a more welcoming environment for investment. Roanokers have invested so much in revitalizing the downtown area. My initiatives will build on that success by tackling the issues the current council has left unaddressed. We need to create an inviting tax environment. More businesses and employees, even paying lower taxes, means more jobs and more tax revenue over time to invest back into our infrastructure, first responders, and schools. It’s a beneficial cycle that leads to sustainable growth over time for us and for our kids. City council needs to do more to help our local businesses grow and flourish and to make our city welcoming to more businesses. We also must tackle the crime immediately. Patrons of the city should feel safe in our downtown. By creating an inviting tax environment, increasing the safety of our communities, and investing in our schools, we will encourage businesses to move to Roanoke, to hire locally, and to stay here to raise their families. • Address the growing homeless situation. In order to make our city thrive again, we need to rescue those in greatest need. We should solve the homeless situation holistically, and not by creating yet another tax-payer funded solution such as one proposed by a current city councilman. His answer was to create lawless “villages” that will become filled with the lost and the physically and mentally ill who will be in danger of becoming victims of abuse and sexual assault in our own backyard. That is not the answer. We need to empower our existing public and charity-based support systems and funnel the homeless in need to the help they deserve. I pledge to partner with our current shelters, local churches, the Veterans Administration (VA), and our partner hospitals and clinics to bring those in need to the services that already exist but are underutilized. We need to give people the chance to take back their own lives and rejoin our communities, not a place to stay lost.