By DR. ELLA P. WARD
I am Dr. Ella P. Ward, and I have served as a member of your Chesapeake City Council for the past seven years. Prior to my election as a City Council member in 2006, I had been elected to the Chesapeake School Board for two consecutive terms beginning in 2000. I also received appointments for 4-year terms to the Virginia State Board of Education by former Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. I was elected vice-president of the State Board of Education for 5 terms, and the decisions we made had an impact on both the School Board and the City Council.
Members of Chesapeake City Council are elected to represent the entire city, and we all have liaison assignments that require us to meet with groups outside of the regular City Council meetings. The liaison assignments also help to keep us engaged with citizen groups who work together to help make our city more productive. My liaison appointments for 2012 to 2014 were selected based on my experience with having served with many of these groups prior to my election to City Council and they are as follows: School Board, Libraries, Fine Arts Commission, Sister Cities, Public Utilities, Volunteers for Youth Advocacy, Cable TV, and the Virginia Municipal League. I also serve as City Council representative to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.
My experience on the School Board, the State Board of Education, and my 35 years in public education were the reasons I wanted to have the School Board as one of my liaison appointments, while public utilities and cable TV are challenging for me. Public Utilities has broadened my perspective of our citizens’ needs with respect to water, whether it’s lobbying the General Assembly to keep the ban on Uranium Mining which could potentially damage our water supply, especially the Northwest River, or working to help our citizens get linked to the city water system. In addition to attending meetings with members of the above groups, City Council members are expected to attend as many Civic League meetings as possible.
Chesapeake is celebrating 50 years of existence as a city this year, and milestones have been made. We have kept taxes low, maintained a triple A bond rating, and we made significant progress that will help solve some of our transportation woes in the region as well as spur economic growth in Chesapeake and the region. The South Norfolk Jordan Bridge has been built (with no costs to the city), and the Gilmerton Bridge is expected to open in 2014. We’ve also secured funding to widen Dominion Blvd and replace that bridge. Our Council is working hard to complete the revitalization of South Norfolk, the Poindexter Street Corridor Improvements, and the new South Norfolk Library.
We are happy that we were able to hire a new City Manager, Mr. James Baker, who will help the city move forward in 2013, and it has been my pleasure to have served you for seven years as a member of Chesapeake City Council.