Hester Calls for Great Schools, Great Neighborhoods for All
Time to End Ward Boss Culture
Norfolk, VA – The Virginian-Pilot today reported that two Norfolk Middle Schools – Ruffner and Lake Taylor – are at the lowest level in the state and should get help. This comes on the heels of problems and challenges at Lafayette Winona Middle School. Daun Hester, candidate for Mayor of Norfolk, calls the problems the watershed from past decisions forced through by some members of city council; decisions she opposed at the time.
“In 2001 the school board was under pressure from some council members and they voted to rezone our middle schools. I and many others predicted the separate but unequal, good schools for some but not all, approach would fail. It has,” Hester says.
According to Hester, Norfolk cannot and will not be competitive with a high quality of life for all citizens if the city’s leadership continues to put forth housing and school policies that perpetuate schools and neighborhoods of choice in only a few pockets of our city.
“It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room,” Hester said.
In 2001, Norfolk Public Schools rezoned its middle school boundaries arguing that doing so would increase white enrollment without harming educational advancement of black students. Instead, white enrollment has dropped; black and white dropout rates have increased; and the three middle schools now facing state scrutiny have increased concentrations of poverty.
In this year’s State of the Union, the President declared, “In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.”
“I believed that a decade ago, and I believe it now,” Hester said.
Hester thinks it is time for our city to stand up together and face these issues head on. “Divided we will continue to fail. It’s time to unite around one great Norfolk,” she said. “As your mayor, I am prepared to lead us away from the last remnants of the massive resistance era of business into a choice for all.”
As Mayor, Hester will:
- Work to expand citywide choice schools that are models of success including racial and economic diversity, such as Ghent Elementary and Meadowbrook. Parents deserve choices, and they should not have to buy their way into certain neighborhoods to access great schools. All must finally mean all!
- Boldly take on the issue of parental responsibility at home and constructive involvement in schools. Too many families expect the schools and the government to do their jobs. As a mother and educator, I will not shy away from this important conversation with anyone.
- Lead this city through serious dialogue about race, class, and opportunity. There has been too much blaming and blustering. It’s time for us to find common ground and creative solutions. Our children need our help and they have no time to waste on the head-in-the-sand approach of the current council leadership.
Eight years ago three members of the city council met with the Chairman of the Norfolk School Board. In a report published by the Virginian-Pilot, the school board leader was quoted as saying, “When you have more than one member of council asking something of you, that’s the same as a 300-pound gorilla asking you to do something, that’s something you take notice of.”
After the meeting, the Norfolk School Board voted to redraw the attendance boundaries for Norfolk middle schools. Hester contends that meeting eight years ago has proven to be a harbinger of the bullying, ward boss approach that has taken over local government.
“The ward boss culture of leadership is hurting all of us. It is time for it to go. We need to compete for strong families and thriving businesses, not only in Hampton Roads, but also across the mid-Atlantic and south. Norfolk can keep trying to recreate perceived good old days, or we can move together toward great new days,” Hester stated. “I say it’s time for great new days. I am prepared to lead and ready to serve Norfolk forward.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Black Women for Obama for Change, (BWFO4Change) announced today they are endorsing Councilwoman Daun Hester for Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia. After an interview with Councilwoman Hester, the group voted to endorse her based on her support for Health Reform legislation, commitment to empowering communities in neighborhoods of Norfolk, Virginia, support for small business and her proven record of working to improve education.
“We are so proud of the record number of women running for office at all levels this year and Daun Hester for Mayor of Norfolk is a great example.” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. National Co-Chair of BWFO4Change, “ We expect Councilwoman Hester to do great things for her City, and we are happy to support her.” “We must continue the progress we made in 2009 by electing people that share President Obama’s values,” said Stephanie Myers, National Co-Chair, BWFO4Change, “Councilwoman Hester has a distinguished record as a champion on behalf of issues important to our communities, women of Virginia, and families. We encourage voters in Virginia to support Daun Hester for Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia.”
Norfolk Educational Consultant Dr. Eleanor Renee Rodriguez commented, “I have known Councilwoman Daun Hester since the first week of my arrival in Norfolk more than decade ago. I knew her first as a then Norfolk City School District employee and next Vice Mayor of the City Council. If Daun Hester is elected Mayor of Norfolk we will definitely have an advocate for children and the diverse communities in Norfolk. I have no doubt she will represent all of the City of Norfolk.”
Black Women for Obama for Change is a volunteer social networking blog community established during the 2008 Presidential primaries by businesswomen and civic activists Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., and Stephanie E. Myers. The organization monitors public policy, educates networkers about significant national issues and endorses candidates for pubic office. DISCLAIMER: This endorsement does not imply any endorsement from the Obama Administration or from President Barack Obama.
National Study Gives Norfolk Poor Bill of Health
Norfolk – Councilwoman Daun Hester, candidate for Mayor of Norfolk, is calling for a renewed focus on the health of our neighborhoods, families, schools and local business. Hester cites a recent report issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers as an indicator of where city leadership should turn their attention.
“The rate of premature death in our city is 53% above the state level and 77% above the target level assigned by the researchers,” Hester said. “Look further into the report and you see the associated factors. In Norfolk we have a significantly lower high school graduation rate, a higher percentage of children living in poverty and a violent crime rate that is almost three times the state level and 10 times the target level.”
It is more difficult to attract and retain businesses and more challenging to encourage citizen investment in our communities when the core problems of our city are not being addressed, Hester believes. A healthy business environment comes from healthy citizens who live in healthy neighborhoods. Place matters and healthy neighborhoods have several vital components including a sense of safety, good schools, places to exercise, available services such as healthy food choices, and shared spaces to foster community cooperation.
“Our city’s leadership has focused on bricks and mortar in the past. There’s more to rebuilding a city than new buildings,” Hester stated. “The successful solutions will be found in the energy and creativity of our citizens but the city needs to help the citizens by setting policy that is empowering rather than prohibitive.”
Hester has drafted a series of bold steps that can be taken through city and citizen collaboration.
- Transforming schools into gathering places to build community capacity. Every neighborhood in Norfolk has a school facility that sits empty more than it is used. Working together our schools can be places where adults learn as much as our children do and when that happens, our children will learn even more.
- Encouraging community use of school grounds for exercise and recreation. The city counts school grounds as park and open space, yet No Trespassing signs are posted at many schools. The contradiction can be addressed with policy and interdepartmental cooperation, which costs little if any additional money.
- Rewarding citizens for block by block improvements by combining city guidance, citizen engagement and existing grant dollars shared by many rather than a few.
- Community gardens, created and developed by citizens in partnership with the Norfolk Environmental Commission. Community gardens grow more than vegetables and flowers. They can be fertile ground for growing friendships and a spirit of caring and sharing.
“I believe our citizens are ready, willing and able to take some bold steps with us,” Hester continued. “But it means changing some old ways, removing the silos and barriers that discourage citizens.”
“All the money in the world won’t repair the damage to our social fiber,” Hester says. “There are not enough jails to end crime. We must come together, work together and promote inclusive growth to overcome the challenges we face.”
Hester encourages citizens to learn more at her web site, MadamMayor.com. The site has been built to encourage citizen participation and it welcomes all citizens to share their vision for Bold Steps for Norfolk.
Candidate for Mayor to Walk 100+ Miles on the Campaign Trail
Norfolk – Knowing it will take bold steps to address the challenges our city faces, Councilwoman Daun Hester is announcing the Bold Steps Walking Tour of Norfolk. Hester is running for the office of Mayor of Norfolk. From the south shore of the Chesapeake Bay to the south side of Norfolk, Hester will walk throughout the city’s neighborhoods meeting citizens, listening to their concerns and ideas, and sharing her vision for a city council leadership that embraces citizen involvement.
Hester will take the first Bold Step on her tour in the northeast corner of the city when she visits the Tarrallton community on Saturday, March 6 at 11:00 a.m. “The east end of Little Creek Road is a great place to start and now is the time to begin,” says Hester.
The goal is to visit at least 50 neighborhoods and walk 100 miles before the city elections are held on Tuesday, May 4.
“I want this campaign to articulate a renewed vision and spirit for our city, a vision which reflects our unique gifts, builds on our great strengths, and respects the contributions of all who work to make Norfolk a great city,” Hester says. “But as with all things related to our city government, it should begin with the citizens.
“Most good ideas come from conversations around a kitchen table and often creative solutions generate from casual discussions between neighbors,” Hester says. “In my administration as mayor, I will encourage citizens to share those ideas and help us seek solutions as collaborators.”
According to Hester, the walk also underscores her commitment to improve the health and well-being of Norfolk citizens and Norfolk neighborhoods. When it comes to our health and well-being, small steps, like a daily walk, can be a bold step on the path to a healthier lifestyle. It can also be a path for neighbors to meet, get to know one another better and find common interests that promote a stronger sense of community.
“Healthy families and healthy neighborhoods produce healthy schools and an environment for strong business growth and development. According to Hester, City Hall today sees itself as the source of Norfolk’s strength as it picks winning and losing neighborhoods and projects. As mayor I will be an advocate for one, united Norfolk where every citizen is encouraged to participate and all neighborhoods are valued. We can not solve the challenges of our city with money alone. We can strengthen and improve our city through cooperation, self-reliance, and innovation,” Hester said.
Following her visit to Tarrallton, Hester will visit the neighborhoods of Norview, Larchmont, Diggs and Talbot Park. A full schedule will be posted on her campaign web site, MadamMayor.com. The site has been built to encourage citizen participation and it welcomes all citizens to share their vision for Bold Steps for Norfolk and to join the tour.