I grew up in rural Great Bridge in the 50’s and 60’s as one of five rambunctious, curious children: my older brother, Dennis; younger brother Stevie; and two younger sisters, Karen and Jo Rita. Like so many households in Great Bridge at the time, we were not a wealthy family. We managed thanks to the help of family and friends. My father was in the United States Navy, and it seemed that he was out to sea most of the time. My mother, with health issues of her own, struggled to raise the five of us alone. We relied on her father, Richard Benjamin Cooke, many, many times. My grandfather was a colorful and vibrant part of Great Bridge. He owned a hardware store and a variety store, two of the five or six businesses serving Great Bridge in that era. He was well known at Great Bridge High School, where his boys were always very active in high school sports. Not all that notoriety was flattering, but my grandfather’s intentions were good. He became rankled at and moved from Great Bridge upon the city fathers’ decision to install a traffic light at the corner of Cedar Road and Battlefield. The growth in Great Bridge was too fast for men like my grandfather way back then.

Highlights of my childhood included sandlot and back yard sports, camping out with my buddies, and childhood escapades while hanging out with my best friend and neighbor, Randy Forbes. In 1960, we were thrilled when Little League baseball was established for boys 8 to 15 years old. I had just turned eight that first summer of Little League baseball. Compared to my older and younger brothers’ athletic abilities, I was only an average ballplayer at best, despite my brothers’ instruction and all my efforts to improve to their level.

The most pivotal highlight of my childhood was entering as a scared young kid, studying hard, and graduating in 1970 from Great Bridge High School. That school exposed me to a genuine sense of community. More importantly, I met the most influential adult in my young life, Principal Harry Blevins who was appointed Principal in my junior year. Mr. Blevins helped me obtain loans and scholarships to attend Ferrum College and Old Dominion University, where I received my Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees. He and Herbert Ruffin were the first to offer me a teaching position after college. Four years later, Mr. Blevins recommended me to a unique program that allowed me to obtain my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Virginia while interning at Indian River High School. As a struggling young teacher with two small children, I recognized that this was a perfect timing for transition to an administrative position in the Chesapeake School System.


My first administrative assignment was at Truitt Junior High School in South Norfolk, as an assistant principal with Jimmy Frye and Principal Dan Graves. That assignment was a phenomenal learning experience. After three years in that position, thanks to Dr. Fred Bateman, I became Principal of Southeastern Elementary School and as such, became the youngest principal in the Chesapeake School Division. For the next 22 years, I would serve at five different schools, two of which were start-ups in brand new buildings. Four of the five schools had totally new programs with new staffs and new programs. As a result, I met thousands of wonderful new students and parents. I was gifted with the support of hundreds of talented and dedicated teachers, each of whom I admire today.

With the help and guidance of friends like Sam Leary and Lee Fowler, I was able to complete my Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Virginia Tech the year before my last school assignment at Greenbrier Middle School. In 2004, I retired from the Chesapeake School Division with many fond memories and a wealth of experiences.

Since my retirement from public education, I have learned the intricacies of business economics in the private sector through my real estate practice. This combination of public and private sector experience has proven invaluable during my first term on the City Council. I have been able to observe the differing perspectives of our City’s population, and I have been able to bridge a great many of the gaps in our community. My 22 years as a middle school principal was superb training for politics. Through my leadership studies and my life experiences I have grown to know and to embrace leadership as the art and science of getting things done.

I hope you will support me in my quest to serve as your next Mayor of Chesapeake. Together we can labor to make Chesapeake the best city it can be. Chesapeake has great potential, but we must have leaders who continually work to get things done. We must continue building a future for all those who come after us. We must stay FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE.