“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently’’ once said Steve Jobs.
Sadly, as you read this, current Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has no competition to look at. One can claim they can do better according to their own version of greatness, but without a challenger, the bar will ultimately remain ostensibly low. It is safe to say, without competition, getting things done any differently on Courthouse Drive will remain a fleeting illusion.
Forget the kitschy images of Will Sessoms smiling on a campaign flyer paired with Obama. I’ll let go of his buddy-buddy backslapping with Governor McAuliffe. I’ll leave it to your own personal judgment whether or not he’s a real Republican; I mean he was endorsed by the McCain family, right? I suppose that’ll get you a cup of coffee and a sardonic grin.
I’m more concerned with his 6 year voting record in the mayor’s office. I’m more concerned with his willful (no pun intended) manipulation of the public trust to favor his business partners. I’m more concerned with his blatant cronyism toward developers who were associated with the bank he was a board member at previously the president of; but hey, what’s 140 million tax payer dollars between friends?
As most people reading this will know, the Virginian Pilot reported on a pattern of voting records spanning 6 years showing favor to developers who borrowed $140 million or more from his former bank. The same bank that obviously helped him gain a $321,000 to $5,600 fundraising edge against his opponent in the mayor’s raceTo put in perspective, that’s $140 million for a couple of misdemeanors versus $140 thousand for the felonies that landed Bob McDonnell 2 years in prison. Let it not be lost on anyone that 10 out of 20 of Mr. Sessom’s biggest donors are either real estate developers or construction companies that major in real estate development.
None of this remains isolated or without precedent. During his 1994 re-election, he was found to own stock in Philip Morris and have voted against an increase in the cigarette tax, the major source of funding for an economic development incentive fund. This same economic development incentive fund he votes to constantly shore up with that happy little tax we are charged for eating out.
Mayor Sessoms has no competition on the slate for this year’s mayor’s race; and that’s good for him: because to paraphrase a recent quote his top priorities are funding an arena for a basketball team that doesn’t exist, funding a rail line that nobody wants to ride, and remodeling a dilapidated hotel from the 1920’s with taxpayer money. Sadly, again.. not much in the way of things being done differently lies on our horizon.