The Virginian Pilot reports that Norfolk attorney Andy Protogyrou has entered the race to replace Ward 1 councilman Don Williams, who has said he will not be running for another term in the May election. Protogyrou says…
…he was recruited by Wards Corner business leaders. The Virginian Pilot quotes Protogyrou as saying, “This ward needs an advocate. The people in Wards Corner have seen what’s happened elsewhere, from Ocean View to downtown to Broad Creek.” Protogyrou unsuccessfully challenged Republican Nick Rerras for the 6th Senate District State Senate seat in 2003. Protogyrou is a prominent local criminal defense and personal injury attorney.
Former Norfolk Policeman Chuck Brewer has also officially announced his intention to run. Brewer served 33 years with the Norfolk Police Department. Paul “Red Rooster” Trice, an Ocean View artist, is also running. Both are critical of the current council and blame Wards Corner’s decline on inattention by the city.
No official word yet on Wards Corner businessman and real estate agent Louis Eisenberg. City insiders say Eisenberg is interested in the seat, and is being encouraged to run by supporters.
Businesswoman Norma Dorey who had previously said she would be running has withdrawn, citing the inability to make an adequate commitment of time to serve. According to city political watchers, Dorey had been heavily recruited and supported by current council members and the Westside business establishment. Dorey detractors in Ward 1 had also questioned her commitment to Ocean View and Wards Corner saying she keeps an apartment downtown.
Willoughby developer John Hadjikakos has also dropped out of the Ward 1 race. The web site Wards Corner Now reports that Hadjikakos has sent an email to supporters notifying them that he will step aside and support Andy Protogyrou.
Light rail leader Randy Wright announced on January 19 that he will seek reelection to his Ward 5 council seat. He received a standing ovation from the approximately 75 attendees at the Roosevelt Gardens Civic League meeting where he made the announcement. Wright recently helped engineer the resignation of longtime Hampton Roads Transit CEO Michael Townes after a series of light rail cost overruns and alleged employee embezzlement within HRT came to light. Granby High School assistant principal Tommy Smigiel so far is Wright’s only confirmed opposition; Smigiel has been campaigning for four months. Wright says Smigiel would not be able to keep up with a hectic schedule of daytime meetings related to city business with his job as an assistant principal. Smigiel says Wright has not been effective in battling absentee landlords, prostitutes, and gangs. Both Smigiel and Wright are graduates of Norview High School. Wright has served on council since 1992.