Saundra Cherry

Key Facts

Party Independent
Status Challenger

Background

Saundra Cherry graduated from Fayetteville Technical Community College with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene, received a BS in Occupational Education from Virginia Commonwealth University, a MS in Dental Hygiene from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, a Master of Divinity Degree from Virginia Union University, and a Doctorate of Ministry Degree from Regent University [1, 2]. Cherry is a former pastoral care intern at Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center, Chaplain resident at Riverside Regional Medical Center, and Assistant Professor in the Graduate Department of Counseling at Hampton University [1, 3].

Cherry’s achievements include the YWCA Virginia Peninsula Women of Distinction Award for Human Services, President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award, Sister to Sister Community Service Award and the Special Chiefs Award for the Newport News Police Department [3].

Cherry has acted as a chairperson for the James A. Fields House Neighborhood Watch Group, Inc., the City of Newport News Planning District, and the Downtown Newport News Merchants & Neighbors Association, Inc., in addition to acting as a vice chairperson for LINK Executive Board. She has been a member of several groups including the Newport News NAACP. Cherry has also acted as a sponsor for Adopt-A-Senior Resident Facility and Adopt-A-School. She was a chaplain in the Newport News Police Department, a former executive board member for the Lily Housing Corporation, and a facilitator of the City of Newport News Juvenile Services YOGI Program [2].

Cherry volunteered in cleanups for the James River, Clean the Bay, and King/Lincoln Park. She has also volunteered for Adopt–a-Spot, Serve-the-City, and the Food Bank Day of Service. She also hosted community activities like the Gregory Cherry Eagles Soar Youth Summit, “Be Your Own Boss: Entrepreneurship”, Easter Basket Give-A-Way, Back-to-School Community Fest, Community Fall Fest, and Christmas for the Children [1].

Key Issues

Communication

Cherry looks to maintain communication between community and government and ensure government accountability by hosting monthly Town Hall Meetings and Neighborhood Watch Meetings [1].

Economy

Cherry wants to expand economic development and opportunities for small business entrepreneurs and to enhance opportunities for women through the Small, Women owned and Minority-owned Business program. She plans to work with the Small Business Administration and the Small Business Coordinator of Newport News to open amenities and stores (e.g. bistros, art shops) that, as she believes, will generate revenue and employment in the city. She also plans to work with the Commissioner of Revenue to establish a small business mentorship initiative that will provide support and opportunities to small business owners as they face challenges in the first year of opening [1].

Education

Cherry supports the efforts that Newport News Public Schools have made to offer options for learning and to provide opportunities for professional development in faculty and staff. She supports current investments and seeks to develop a small business incubator for education on non-traditional skill sets (e.g. shoe repair, auto mechanics) by working with business owners who are willing to train individuals to learn a trade for a wage.

Environment

Cherry supports the purchase of charge stations for electric/hybrid vehicles throughout Newport News, the initiative of the Newport News School District to install solar panels on rooftops and ground-mounted substations for solar energy, upgrades being made with water meters, the placement of air monitors in the community, and the city’s new program to improve solid waste pick-up through Environmental Officers. She supports city staff to continue implementation of sustainability efforts to reduce emissions [1].

Housing

Cherry wants to address the shortage of affordable housing in Newport News by using land lots in the ordinance to develop more housing. She also plans to visit cities that have been successful in providing housing, work with the Four Oaks Day Service Center to increase housing, and use the $30 million Choice Neighborhood Initiative awarded to Newport News by the Department of Housing Urban Development to create more housing opportunities [1].

Public Safety

Cherry supports improved fire staff visibility in the community and wants to engage youths in Fire Department activities and bring recruitment opportunities to a youth level. She wants to work with the Newport News Fire Department to maintain International Organization for Standardization accreditation with the Center for Public Safety and to ensure they have necessary fire equipment. She seeks to ensure that fire stations are located in areas of the city that will yield swift response times to EMS, Fire, and Rescue efforts. Cherry wants to work with the Newport News Police Department to ensure the maintenance of accreditation status with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and the use of modern practices and policies. She also supports the police department’s work with youth through the Young Adult Police Commissioners and supports families of victims of violent crimes through the Homicide Support Group. Cherry supports the use of the Community Assistance Response Team unit for residents with mental health crises and the building of the Riverside Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Psychiatric Department. She also supports the city grant to provide funding for organizations and programs focused on violence reduction [1].

Transportation

Cherry wants to improve mobility by supporting the Microtransit Pilot Project and the new Transportation Center in construction at Bland Boulevard. She proposes further study of the Bus Rapid Transit design with HRT as another option to enhance movement between Newport News and Hampton and increase services for special needs populations [1].

Community

Cherry aims to make Newport News a welcoming destination for visitors by promoting art and culture in the city. She plans to bring greater opportunities to expressive art forms through festivals, pop-up cultural food truck events, and public spaces for gatherings. She also wants to expand awareness of the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center to increase its usage for entrepreneurial energy in various forms of art/technology and bring experiences and job opportunities for city residents [1].

Endorsements

No endorsements could be found.

Sources

1 Saundra Cherry for Mayor

2 Newport News 

3 Living Abundantly Youth Vision