October, and Just Before, Surprises

In national politics, the “October Surprise” is some headline-grabbing revelation about a candidate in a high-profile race in the month before an election. The news, usually negative,  is expected to change the outcome of the political contest. Locally, the post-Labor Day “reveal” of People for Portsmouth PAC endorsed candidates and the just-announced Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee PAC endorsements could be considered in the same category . . . almost. In the cases of our hometown PACs, many of the candidates getting the nods from the “powers that be” in the African- and European-American elites were totally predictable (marked TP below). Some were reasonably predictable (RP). Others were complete shockers (CS). Asterisks (*) denote special cases. See if you agree. Continue reading

City Council Candidate Forum, September 10, 2016


Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance Co-chair and Forum Moderator Pat Simons

The Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance hosted a forum for city council candidates in place of their regular monthly business meeting. Although invitations went out to all ten candidates, seven attended: Rev. Leon J. Boone, Mr. Nathan J. Clark, Mr. Mark A. Geduldig-Yatrofsky, Ms. Lisa L. Lucas-Burke, Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas, Ms. S. C. “Cathy” Revell, and former Council Member Ray A. Smith, Sr. The candidates had two minutes for both opening and closing statements and up to one-and-half minutes per response to a series of wide-ranging questions submitted in writing by those in attendance. The video record of the forum at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSDUcRtKmWg. The running time is about an hour and twenty-seven minutes. (Videography by Mr. Peter Olanitori for PortsmouthCityWatch.org)


Candidate Leon J. Boone


Candidate Nathan J. Clark


Candidate Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky


Candidate Lisa L. Lucas-Burke


Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas


Candidate S. C. “Cathy” Revell


Candidate Ray A. Smith, Sr.

Publisher’s Notebook: People for Portsmouth Endorsements and Interview

For a long-time advocate of openness in the civic realm, the candidate endorsements by the People for Portsmouth Political Action Committee were epoch making. Many organizations in our city and region — the Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee, the teachers association, the firefighters’ union, the police association, the realtors’ association, to name a few — select their favorite candidates, bestowing praise and often contributions upon them. Some of these groups vet candidates through a nominally competitive process involving questionnaires and interviews for everyone running; others, anoint their champions in backrooms without any notice to non-members that they are deciding whom to endorse. Whatever the process, as private organizations they are free to choose whomever they like for reasons known only to members of the selection committees. Continue reading

“Money, Money, Money” in Local Races

The not-for-profit Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) has been helping the public to track contributions to Virginia political candidates. Founded in 1997 as a collaboration among the largest newspapers in our commonwealth, it has expanded the breadth of its reporting to include the financial accounting for many local candidates. This is of particular benefit to the electorate because those seeking municipal offices can choose to file their reports either electronically or on paper. If not for the efforts of VPAP to collect and share the paper filings, those reports would be effectively shielded from public view by the necessity of visiting the local registrar of voters office every filing period to examine them. Continue reading

Council Candidate 2016: Donna Biggs Sayegh (updated)

[Ms. Donna Biggs Sayegh is one of the certified candidates for Portsmouth City Council. She provided the following platform to help acquaint the Portsmouth electorate with her program as an elected official.]


I promise if I am elected to City Council, I will make an effort to:

  •  see that all public safety positions are filled in a timely fashion. This includes all public safety offices: sheriff, police, fire, and medics.
  • establish a finance commission; and
  • provide proper funding for the public safety retirement plans.

Rationale:  We the people must support our public safety personnel by providing them with a living wage and help them maintain a standard of living when they retire.

Council Candidate 2016: Cathy Revell

[Ms. Cathy Revell is one of the announced candidates for Portsmouth City Council. She provided the following biographical information to help acquaint the Portsmouth electorate with what she has to offer.]

I was born in Portsmouth and have lived here most of my life. I am married to David Ratcliff, a local photographer, artist and inventor. We have two grown children, who live locally.

Professional Experience

My professional health care experience includes positions at Portsmouth Psychiatric Hospital, Portsmouth General Hospital, Bon Secours Maryview, and Portsmouth Community Health Center, now Hampton Roads Community Health Center. At Chesapeake Care, Inc., a charitable medical and dental clinic serving low-income, uninsured residents of Chesapeake and Hampton Roads, I was the executive director. I am a partner of the Little Shoppes on High, LLC and president of The Revell Group, providing grant writing and consulting services to non-profit organizations throughout Virginia. Continue reading