Recall Was not the Only Topic

For those who did not attend the “called meeting” of citizens at the Sheriff’s Department training facility last evening, reading the Virginian-Pilot lead story today gives an incomplete understanding of what transpired. In the first place, the meeting notice that came to us through “a friend of a friend” did not refer to a recall campaign but rather to addressing a crisis of leadership in the city. The first portion of the gathering, in fact, concerned establishing a political action committee — working title, “People for Portsmouth PAC” — to recruit, vet, and elect to local office candidates who take “the long view” of resolving the perennial fiscal, social, and economic challenges that face our city.

Dr. Pam Koeppel, who has served Portsmouth in a number of volunteer capacities, including her current position as a commissioner of the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority, opened the meeting. At the outset, she clearly stated that her presentation would not be about a recall effort; that would be a separate discussion afterwards. Then she described in a few sentences some of the key considerations that motivated the formation of the PAC. She credited Captain Lee Cherry of the Sheriff’s Department with helping to make the meeting possible at the chosen location. A particularly interesting aspect of her presentation was the assertion that the PAC would be seeking qualified candidates without regard to ethnic, religious, or political affiliations.

Although PCW did no formal polling of those in attendance, our clear impression is that a significant portion came out to learn what was afoot. Many of those we recognized, citizens from across the city, took no stand for or against the recall idea but listened attentively during both portions of the meeting. We left with no clear idea of how many would become involved with either the PAC or the recall.

With due respect to Mr. Robert Marcus, the spokesperson for the recall, our considered opinion is that it will just squander resources of human energy and money that would be better deployed in supporting worthy candidates for mayor and city council in 2016. We predict that if the 8,000 or so signatures needed to force a recall vote are collected and certified, a majority of the electorate will not, for reasons having little to do with his performance on the job, vote Mayor Wright out of office. Additionally, despite Dr. Kloeppel’s efforts to place a wall of separation between creation of the PAC and Mr. Marcus’s recall campaign, the latter may well undermine the credibility of the former as an inclusive undertaking. We counsel all our fellow citizens to consider carefully the ramifications of adding their signatures to a mayoral recall petition.

6 thoughts on “Recall Was not the Only Topic

  1. I’ve said this elsewhere, but I’ll say it again: When I heard about the recall movement last week, I was struck by the irony of this situation since this mayor is the direct result of the recall of Mayor Holley. Think ahead, people, and be careful what you wish for! A recall is both a waste of time and money better spent on assessing future candidates and building coalitions for systemic change to keep the same problems that arise year after year (especially with regard to budgets and the PPS) from recurring. This recall effort will have no winners and will serve only to further divide us along racial lines no matter what rhetoric is meted out to the masses.

  2. While not in good enough health to come out to this kind of a meeting, I am in full support of the organization of a team of candidates for the 2016 election, and will help in any capacity that I can via social networking, etc. My only criteria for jumping fully into the effort is that I believe it is critical for the good of the city, and to have a shot at actually having a winning team, is that we have to have the right people, and that it has to be racially balanced. As I look at the pictures from the meeting the other night, it is certainly one of the more white dominated crowds that one is going to find in Portsmouth. There is no one that I know that is more convinced than I that in the year 2015, it is disgusting to even have to think about race as a criteria. But here in the real world, we certainly do if the goal is to actually elect the team of candidates that we need in our leadership. If the goal is just to make a statement, with winning a secondary criteria, it would not be worth the effort from my perspective.

  3. I meant to add to my previous comment that I will not be signing a petition to recall the mayor. I fully agree with previous comments that it is a fruitless expenditure of effort that could be more productively used to get our act together of 2016, and in all likelihood would only further polarize our community making the election of a racially diverse team of actual leaders a significantly more difficult task. Furthermore, a recall should be used only for very specific and legal reasons, not merely the lack of effective leadership. It that were to be a valid criteria, we would be in a perpetual cycle of election, recall, election ,recall for most of our elected officials.

    • Wayne, this belated response is to agree with you that our PAC, People for Portsmouth, must include all ages, races and religions. Our supporters want to make a impact on the 2016 election. We will endorse a biracial slate of candidates for all elected offices, support these candidates with poll workers, get out the vote drives, mailers, telephone calls, etc. Please join us. We are only just beginning. Our next meeting is August 27, at 7:00, at the FOP Club. Look forward to seeing you there.

  4. Good to see some relevant response from PortsmouthCityWatch. We seem to be spiraling into a deeper crisis than ever in Ptown but not a word (until now) from PCW. Indeed ironic . . . that our current Mayor should be the heir of the late Mayor Holley . . . ironic too that the present Council is a charade out of Reconstruction days. Fast forward to the the 1956 Southern Manifesto and Dr. Whitaker publicly acting-out his Dr. King delusion. Moody & Meeks make the perfect foils in this comedy. Bankruptcy should not be too far in our future once the bond raters down grade us for attempting to pay our way out of the fiscal bind with one-time monies. The present players will likely be out of office by the time this losing game all falls down but that might be after the Riot. Our model cities seem to be Baltimore and Detroit. Sad, so very sad. This town might have been an opportunity to heal the worst lingering legacies of American History X but it seems more likely we will only confirm we as a society can’t get past our past.

  5. Thank you, Mark. I was sorely disappointed in the Pilot’s article for leaving out the PAC meeting. I see a lot of fruitage coming from that endeavor in the future. As for the recall, you and Ms Danaher make good points which I will keep in mind as this plays out.

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