By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent
New Journal and Guide
Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth I. Wright kicked off his bid for re-election in November with a breakfast for his supporters on Saturday (Aug. 20) at New Bethel Baptist Church in the Cavalier Manor area of the city. Wright has been buoyed by increased economic development in the Mid-City and Victory Crossing areas, new apartments under construction downtown, improving public schools, and a failed recall petition drive.
Wright has harnessed an energized base of grassroots supporters, hired a savy campaign manager in Cynthia Morrison, the city’s Clerk of the Court, and garnered endorsements from some of the most prominent politicians in the Commonwealth, including Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor, Northern Virginia candidate for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Congressman Bobby Scott-3rd Dist, Del. Matthew James, Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales, Councilman Mark Whitaker, School Board members Costella Williams and Joseph A. Fleming, all of whom were in attendance at the breakfast.
Wright believes he has positive momentum going into the November 8 election against a crowded field of five candidates. Mark Whitaker told the audience that “Mayor Wright promotes economic development and economic justice.” He also received a loud round of applause when he keenly asserted that Wright is the best leader for the city because he is battle-tested, “having withstood the Virginian-Pilot, Portsmouth Tea Party, and our Sheriff!”
Lt. Gov. candidate Justin Fairfax said Mayor Wright is one of the best mayors in America and that Wright had been invited to the White House for recognition by President Obama. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Lt. Gov., endorsed Wright and encouraged those gathered to support both Wright and Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election. Northam, a pediatric neurologist who works with disabled children, said he was saddened by how Donald Trump, Republican nominee for President, purportedly mocked a handicapped man. He also said Trump was disingenuous when he said recently encouraged African-Americans to vote for him.
Trump said, “What do you have to lose?” Northam, replied, “Everything!” Del. Matthew James told the audience that “Mayor Wright gives accountability and access.” James asserted, “Portsmouth produces quality people” and he highlighted local elected officials and professionals in other fields who were born and raised in the city. In his remarks, Mayor Wright said that he wants to move the city forward and that he is not caught up in the personality side of local politics. He argued that the citizens of Portsmouth have fundamental principles that must be met by elected officials.
Mayor Wright told his supporters gathered that only two media outlets, one of those being the New Journal and Guide newspaper, had been invited to his re-election event. He said the other media outlets were not invited because they “twist and turn things around” and don’t accurately report the news in the city, in his opinion.