January has been a strong month for community engagement, celebrating new public art, watching the Virginia General Assembly embark on the 2020 session, and to see a community kick off activities related to the 2020 Census.
On Wednesday, January 29, Norfolk kicked off the 2020 Norfolk Census season to bring awareness to this count that takes place every ten years in our country. It is important that all people living in Norfolk be counted! You will receive the census questionnaire in the mail at your home beginning in April. You can fill out the paper questionnaire or go online to complete. Let me share two examples where we need to further educate our community. If you are a college student living in Norfolk attending Old Dominion University or Norfolk State University, for example, you need to register as a Norfolk resident even if your parent’s home, where you may go for holidays or summers, is out of state. If you are deployed in the military overseas but are home based and living in Norfolk, you need to count yourself as someone living in Norfolk. This even applies if you have a residence in Florida, for example. The number of people counted in the Norfolk census will factor into how much federal funding we receive for the next ten years. Be counted!
The General Assembly in Richmond is considering a variety of bills as it relates to commercial gaming and casinos in Virginia. As you recall, Norfolk signed a Development Agreement and Option to Purchase Agreement with the Pamunkey Tribe to pursue a path of commercial gaming. Should legislation pass in this session, a referendum would go on the ballot in November in Norfolk for the voters to weigh in on commercial gaming in Norfolk. The General Assembly finishes its session in March so I will update you once action is taken in Richmond.
Public art is such a welcomed amenity that energizes our public spaces and makes our community beautiful and interactive. The Norfolk Public Arts Commission was established 14 years ago. The Commission has placed 75 art pieces throughout Norfolk in these last 14 years. I had the opportunity to dedicate a new art piece in Munson Park in the Park Place neighborhood titled, Place in Time. Mr. Ken McCall, artist, came with his family from Boise, Idaho, for this wonderful dedication. Place in Time represents the Park Place community as well as the changing dynamics of the community itself. I encourage you to visit this large piece of art in Munson Park on 26/27th Street. It is stunning!
I continue to enjoy my visits with various civic leagues throughout Ward 2. I visited the Freemason Street Area Association, Oakdale Farms/Denby Park, and Monticello Village civic leagues in January. I learn so much listening to residents and I share the latest news from Norfolk.
January 20 marked the celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. I attended a breakfast hosted by the Urban League of Hampton Roads, which brought together many from throughout the region. Additionally, Norfolk City Council hosted a program at the Attucks Theatre honoring Dr. King, which concluded with a march from the Attucks Theatre to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Church Street.
I hope you are having a good start to this new year and new decade – 2020!
Again, please contact me if you would like to visit during my office hours, which I hold the third Thursday of every month. Please email me to schedule a time!