• City of Washington

    Mayor (1 candidate) and City Council (voters select 5)

    Virginia Finnerty

    Office campaigning for:

    Washington City Council

     

    What is your current job title?

    Retired

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    BS in Elementary Education

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    Continue to work towards improving and maintaining our city's infrastructure as well as its aesthetic appearance for the benefit and enjoyment of all its residents.

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    I will continue to advocate for the addition of a full-time information officer whose top priority will be to use all forms of communication methods to keep the public closely engaged and fully informed.

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    If the voters are looking for a fair and trustworthy person who will represent all the citizens of Washington with integrity and honesty, they will vote for me.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    I take my role and my decisions on city council very seriously; am deeply committed to the success and prosperity of Washington and all its residents and always strive to be fair and objective.

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    Please make every effort to get to know the candidates before you vote. Feel free to call me if you have any questions, 305-905-3055.

    Gwendolyn Gilbert

    Office campaigning for:

    Washington City Council

     

    What is your current job title?

    Chief Behavioral Health Officer

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    Master’s degree.

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    My top priority will be to make sure the citizens’ voices are heard. Many are voicing concerns regarding affordable housing and revitalization efforts in other parts of the city besides the waterfront. I want to make sure that there is, at least, discussion regarding this.

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    I will involve individuals by letting them know what’s on the agenda and encouraging participation in meetings. I will also solicit discussion through social media, scheduled Zoom meetings, and having them call in their views and/or discussions to our telephone line.

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    I cannot say I have 15+ years of local government experience, nor can I say I have been on the City Council in the past. I believe voters should choose me because I bring fresh, new energy to the council. I have a desire and passion to see Washington excel and bring new business and revenue into the city. I also have an ear that will listen to what the people want and what the city needs. I care about the development and success of ALL of Washington.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    Three things people should know about me are: a) I have a passion for people. I am a professional counselor by trade and a natural listener! I don’t hear to respond but truly listen to what is being said so I can help formulate a plan. b) I am a reader and researcher. Before I make any major decisions, I want to know the cause and effects of similar decisions and avoid potential pitfalls that may have occurred. I believe in educating those around me so we can all make well-informed decisions. c) I am a doer! I believe in putting things in action. Being in public service is an action. We must “do” something and not just talk about doing. I believe in being an active participant and doing something about the concerns of the city.

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    I am very active in the community through advocacy, interacting with community organizations, serving on area organizations‘ boards of directors, being involved with area youth and activities, and engaging with all citizens. I believe in a healthy community physically, financially, and developmentally. I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where I serve in my local chapter as chair of mental health. Lastly, one of my favorite quotes is: “The idea of service leads to community” - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

     

    Betsy Kane

    Office campaigning for:

    Washington City Council

     

    What is your current job title?

    City planning consultant

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning Law Degree (J.D.)

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    My number one priority is to put Washington's people at the heart of strategies for our city. We need *everyone's* ideas and insights. We can't afford to leave anyone behind, nor can we afford to ignore the contributions that everyone is able to make to our city's vision. Our city depends on the involvement of its people. Decisions should be made openly, not in back rooms, and not by "insiders". This is the key to unlocking Washington's potential while also preserving what people love about our city. Public involvement is the *key* to all the other priorities, from safer streets, to housing and neighborhoods, to economic development, to environmental quality and clean water, to balancing the budget and managing stormwater and drainage better. I firmly believe in and commit to the project of open government, where we base our decisions as a city on the priorities of its people. We need to move beyond the old way of telling people what is going to happen in Washington and then listening to the complaints roll in. People complain *after the fact* because they are not included *before the decisions are made.* I've worked very hard to open up our decision-making to the people while I have been in my first two-year term on City Council. For example: - I pushed to include a new position of Public Information Officer on our city staff - now we have one for the first time to provide accurate information to people in our city. - I advocated against dismissing our city Electric Utilities Board -- we need more citizen input through boards and commissions, not less. - I successfully spearheaded a public-driven vision plan for the 15th Street Corridor. The plan was powered by public input through a variety of meetings, focus groups, polls, paper and electronic surveys, and open pin-up sessions. Everyone who wanted to contribute could be heard. As a result, we have a clear, consensus vision for improvements to this important business and residential corridor -- instead of a back-room deal! The only legitimate source of power in our governmental system is THE PEOPLE. I look forward to serving a second term and finding more ways to exercise our "public participation muscles"!

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    I will continue to involve my constituents -- all of Washington -- in similar ways as I have done in my first term: -- I provide periodic UPDATES to the public on my City Council Facebook page so that people can know and understand what actions Council is considering or is taking. -- I go to community events and listen to what people have to say. -- I am especially committed to hearing from under-served persons and populations that have been "done to" in the past. -- I am very responsive to emails, phone calls, and requests for personal meetings with citizens. -- I actively reach out to non-profit and neighborhood groups to see how the City can work with those organizations on matters of interest to the public. Most importantly: -- I don't just SAY I want to involve people, I actively WORK to make the City and its processes more inclusive of public involvement. --- For example, I was the leading advocate for a citizen-led planning process for the 15th Street Corridor, with the primary objective of hearing from all people who wished to make their voices heard about the future of that dangerous but very important and neglected street. --- Another example: I worked with volunteers and interested groups to establish a Litter Prevention Task Force after hearing numerous complaints about the amount of litter in our waterways and roadsides. --- Another example: I believe in having the discussion of issues and decisions AT THE COUNCIL TABLE, in PUBLIC. I do not believe in having a "meeting before a meeting" and then just taking a vote. In our system of government, THE PEOPLE are the source of all legitimate exercise of governmental authority. I am totally committed to that founding principle!

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    I have over 20 years of experience in municipal government as a city planner, in economic development, citizen participation, visioning and strategic planning, land use and zoning, downtown development, and strengthening neighborhoods. I have two years of experience on Council now, and accomplished many items during my first term: -- our city's first bike lanes -- first new sidewalks were constructed in neighborhoods that very much needed them -- installed traffic calming measures -- accomplished a public-led vision plan for 15th Street so that NCDOT will build street improvements that the city's people want, not just what Raleigh wants -- better stormwater drainage improvements for neighborhoods that are chronically flooded during rain events, -- tuned the city's first ever Public Information Officer -- approved indoor Harbor District Market HVAC and electrical improvements -- a revitalized downtown with badly-needed utility infrastructure pipes and wiring, along with streetscape improvements for seating, lighting, outdoor dining, bike parking, and much more -- support of the Housing Authority's homeownership initiative -- finding ways to support the long-term fiscal sustainability of our municipal airport -- tree protection measures -- a brand-new all-abilities playground in a location right in our core neighborhoods can get to it -- made first-stage progress towards a stream restoration plan for Jack's Creek, our primary (very polluted) urban waterway -- next step is to accomplish this plan and make it a clean, restored creek with environmental value and recreational amenities for our neighborhoods in the heart of town. This can be "Washington's Second Waterfront" -- a balanced budget with no tax increase both years I was on council. I am the foremost advocate on City Council for accountability to our public. I am an active, doing kind of Councilor. I believe in strategizing and working for progress, not just resting between monthly meetings and showing up on meeting day to vote yes or no on things that city staff puts before us. I am the only working-age person on Council who is not retired, yet I believe you will find that I am the most active and involved member of Council. I try to put clear principles and reasons to my every vote. I research everything before I vote on it. You will always know where I stand, and *why* I take a position. My track record from my first term speaks for itself. Want me to keep going? I will! For this, I need your vote.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    1. I have the experience and knowledge of municipal government -- from my career in city planning and local government law -- to be effective on City Council, and from a successful track record of significant accomplishments during my first term. 2. I believe in hearing from everyone who wants to be heard. This part of my belief in my accountability to the public. -- I try my best to equalize the opportunity for ALL people to be active participants in their local government. This mean making efforts to reach out to those who have not been well served. -- Above all, everything I do must be accountable to the public, to the public good, and to people's vision for what our city should be. 3. I am an active, DOING kind of City Councilor. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in my first term on hands-on involvement, advocacy, leadership on issues, and commitment. -- I do my best to live up to my belief that a City Councilor should be active, should communicate, and should be publicly accountable. -- I believe City Council should be directing our city towards an overarching strategic vision based on public input, not passively waiting around for staff to come up with things for us to vote on.

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    I believe our city is the best in eastern North Carolina. I am hopeful that people are pleased with my service on Council in my first term. It is my pleasure to meet and hear from YOU as we plan a future together for our city! I look forward to continuing to serve Washington and hope that you will want me to continue in a second term.

     

     

    William H. Pitt

    Office campaigning for:

    Washington City Council

     

    What is your current job title?

    Semi-retired photographer

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    Community college, working towards returning to college

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    My top interest will be to seek equity in the community. To create programs to involve all cities for an example a citizens youth council.

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    Regular meeting in neighborhoods and reach out to all interested citizen more.

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    I am a firm believer that education is the key to making so much better. I have led the state League of Cities and the first thing I did when was voted in was to seek educational assistance from the UNC School of Government to improve my leadership skills. I have since also sought out other elected leaders to learn from them and to build relationships. I sought to rise and learn. I am a strong communicator. It is so important to talk and learn about people.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    I listen and I write down your concerns. I also follow up and explain the process.

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    I will do what what I said I would do.

    Bobby E. Roberson

    Office campaigning for:

    Washington City Council

     

    What is your current job title?

    Retired - Urban Planner/General Contractor

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    MPA – Master's in Public Administration

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    ELECTRICITY - Reducing the City's electric $ profit transfers to reinvest in electric infrastructure improvements and encouraging public households to enroll in "Beat the Peak" load management. This will make the system more efficient, more reliable, no more flickering lights and computer freezes, plus will keep rates low for consumers and businesses.

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    Open forums in various neighborhoods & churches, too, if they are available. More two-way input from citizens and businesses via email, social media, and surveys.

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    I am local, born and raised, but more importantly I am the most experienced in local government, I have over 40 years in government management, 18 years+ in urban planning in Washington, Wilson and Greenville plus I have the business education as well, with a Master's in Public Administration.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    1. HONESTY above all

    1. I am in favor of a CITY BALANCED BUDGET with limited transfers from the Electric Fund instead of borrowing profits to balance the General Fund each year

    1. More focus on PUBLIC SAFETY and we need to quickly build the New Highway 17 Police Station, (since our old location was flooded out in the last hurricane and we have been paying rent at a temporary location for some time).

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    CITY COUNCIL TERMS: Currently we elect five individuals every two years on a nonpartisan basis. Some members of our current council want to change the terms to four years. I would never make a change without a vote of the people.

    Roland Wyman

    What is your current job title?

    Retired Electrical Engineer

     

    What is your highest level of education?

    BA electrical engineering

     

    If elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?

    Youth retention and more housing choices for young professionals. Our graduates tend to believe they must move away from Washington to seek opportunities. Also, we need more programs and facilities geared toward the under-21 young adults. Young professionals often must find housing in other communities. The city can encourage the creation of living spaces suitable for these young professionals by making developers aware of opportunities in our city.

     

    If elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?

    As a city council member, I constantly and actively reached out to Washington residents for constructive conversations. I gave our residents opportunities to contribute the wealth of ideas that Washingtonians have. The city benefits from people's insights and solutions, based on their direct experience with our city's challenges. I'll continue to place great emphasis on open communication through multiple channels.

     

    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?

    Properly executing the responsibilities of a city council member requires a willingness to expend time, energy and to remain focused on the issues and initiatives. I've shown I am willing to perform a deep dive into anything that is presented to city council. I arrive at my decisions after extensive research and with the understanding that I must represent all of Washington's residents. During my past term on city council, I demonstrated a skillset that contributed to a productive city council that could examine the issues presented to it, engage in discussions and at times negotiate, then arrive at the best outcomes.

     

    What three things about you do you most want voters to know?

    During my career, I developed skills that are essential to being an effective city council member. As an electronics instructor in the military, I was tasked with educating technicians from various foreign militaries with which we were allied, such as Iran and Vietnam. That experience, along with my time in the corporate world, living and doing business in many countries, led to a perspective and knowledge that has served me well and will certainly benefit our community. Success in these prior ventures depended heavily on building a strong basis of long-term trust and this allowed me to refine and solidify a code of ethics which ensured a positive outcome for all parties involved. I maintained honor throughout my career, and I earned and retained the trust of all those all the people I dealt with and all who worked for me. I intend to maintain these standards and work tirelessly for our community.

     

    Is there anything else you wish to say?

    A city council needs vision. It should be a shared vision with its residents. Put simply, everyone strives toward making their lives better, to be able to say, "I love it here". A city council should put citizens' ideas and concerns at the heart of city business. Let's work together towards an inclusive community, where people of all socio-economic backgrounds enjoy a growing base of businesses, opportunities, and quality of life, where everyone can say "We love it here"!