Newport News City Council, Central District, Seat B: Candidates spotlight

Kleon Lang

Age: 40

Profession: Engineer at Huntington Ingalls

Previous office held: None listed

Education: Georgia Institute of Technology, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, 2004; Morehouse College, BA in General Studies, 2004

What experiences do you bring that qualify you for city council?

My experience includes serving on the Newport News Commission on Youth and the Newport News Planning Commission. I currently serve on the Newport News Board of Zoning Appeals, the Virginia Living Museum Board of Trustees, the Boys and Girls Club of Virginia Peninsula Board of Directors, and the Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula Board of Directors.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you achieve it?

Gun Violence Prevention – Ensuring that all of our youth have a path to a career is a proven gun violence prevention strategy. I want to restart the Summer Training Enrichment Program (STEP) as a public-private partnership that offers summer internships for at-risk students and a pre-employment program for graduating seniors who are not going to college or the military.

Education – Quality education is vital for our children in our public school system. I plan to invest in public school education to ensure our school system can attract and retain top quality teachers. Also offer investment in mental health professionals to address the needs of children who have or are experiencing trauma that prevents the student from learning.

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Rob Coleman

Age: 51

Profession: Chief Operating Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula

Previous office held: Newport News City Council, 2012–2016, North District

Education: Warwick High School, 1989; University of Virginia National Criminal Justice Command College, Certificate in Criminal Justice, 2017

What experiences do you bring that qualify you for city council?

I served Newport News for 25 years as a Distinguished Law Enforcement Officer in the Newport News Sheriff’s Office and now as Chief Operating Officer for the Virginia Peninsula Boys & Girls Clubs. I am a proud lifelong resident of Newport News and my experience as a trusted community partner, former council member, public safety expert and youth development advocate has uniquely prepared me to be the best choice for Newport News’ Central District.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you achieve it?

To address serious community challenges like public safety, school funding, economic development, and the environment, you need a focused team of dedicated leaders. If I were elected to the Newport News City Council, my top priority would be to begin the team/relationship building process with the newly elected and current council members immediately. Building trusting and respectful relationships with my Council colleagues will be critical to our success. It’s important to remember that even if we don’t agree on every issue or project, we must always treat each other and everyone before us with dignity and respect. During my career I have participated in several team building events that have been successful and I would be honored to be part of the team bringing our council and city together.

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Stephen Ferguson

Age: 49

Profession: retired firefighter/paramedic and business owner

Previous office held: None listed

Education: attended Christopher Newport University, no graduation date given.

What experiences do you bring that qualify you for city council?

I believe that I am the best candidate for the job. I care deeply about this city and the people who call Newport News home. We must change the course of government. With conservative leadership to improve the lives of our citizens and our business community. I believe in Big Citizen, small government. I have been in public service for the communities where I have lived most of my life. As an entrepreneur, I understand the principles of giving our employees the opportunity to be better tomorrow than they are today.

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If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you achieve it?

We need to lower taxes in Newport News, we need to achieve the highest taxes in the area, and that alone is stopping people and businesses from moving to our city. We need to improve the safety of our people and our schools. Finally, we need to change the way the city interacts with the business world. (We should) set up public-private partnerships to encourage entrepreneurship. This would open up opportunities, incubators, capital and other resources.

(We should work to bring the professions back into schools, we are not all built for college and to equip our youth with marketable professions that will have an almost immediate impact on the community. Automotive, HVAC, Welding, Commercial Driving and more. All of this will drive current and future business. We must streamline the planning, zoning and permitting processes to equip business owners to incorporate, relocate and expand in Newport News.

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