Tommy R. Smigel, Jr.

Key Facts

Party Independent
Status Incumbent

Background

Thomas “Tommy” R. Smigiel Jr. earned a BS in education from Old Dominion University, having been student body president, Student Leader of the Year, and a finalist for the Kaufman Prize. He then earned a master’s degree in school administration and supervision from Cambridge College and an educational specialist degree from Walden University.

Smigiel was recognized as the 2007 Norfolk Teacher of the Year and the 2008 Virginia Teacher of the Year, becoming a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He was previously named Norfolk Public Schools’ Science Teacher of the Year and was an assistant principal at Granby and Lake Taylor High Schools. He became the planning principal of Norfolk’s 3rd-8th Grade School Academy for Discovery at Lakewood in 2014, serving for six years and implementing Project Based Learning and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school. In 2020, he became the principal of Granby High School. Smigiel received the 2009 Old Dominion University Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also recognized by the Norfolk Jaycees in 2011 as an Honorary Member and in 2017 as a Distinguished Alumni of Norfolk Public Schools.

Smigiel served as an officer and board member of both the West and East Ocean View Civic Leagues, coordinating neighborhood clean-ups. He was then appointed to the Norfolk Environmental Commission by the city council.

In 2007, after a gang mob attack in his neighborhood, Smigiel coordinated a town hall forum and helped East Ocean View get selected as a Project Focus neighborhood. After gang members broke into his home, he decided to bring more attention to Ocean View and Ward 5 and ran for city council.
Smigiel was elected to the city council, representing Ward 5, in 2010. He was co-chair of the East Little Creek Road Task Force and Ocean View Advisory Committee. He was appointed to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. He also co-chaired the Mayor’s Commission on Life Long Learning and serves as a board member on the Old Dominion University Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Advisory Committee. He has additionally served on the Board of Directors for Virginia Municipal League, becoming president in 2019. Smigiel previously served as a member of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads Youth Development Advisory Committee. In 2015, he was awarded a Top 40 Under 40 Award by Inside Business [1, 4].

Key Issues

Community

Smigiel wants to work with the City Manager and Staff to develop Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH), referring to residential rental properties that are affordable but unsubsidized by federal programs. He wants weekend staff to enforce code every day. He supports a citizen Short Term Rental Task Force to identify STR saturation and strengthening of penalties for illegal operators. Smigiel also wants funding to purchase properties along Little Creek Rd. and Ocean View.

Smigiel advocated for $5 million in ARPA funds to improve Northside Park. He also secured funding for Ocean View Beach Park to include additional amenities and a transportation study for Ocean View to develop a plan for safe pedestrian crossings and better traffic control. Smigiel has supported working with MetroNet to offer another high speed internet provider and establishing “gold standard” requirements for Short Term Rental applicants, which include noise decibel readers, surveillance cameras, 20 minute emergency response from property owner, and posted emergency phone numbers. Smigiel obtained over $3 million to develop Bay Oaks Park a reality and has worked to improve Community Beach, complete the Lake Whitehurst Boat and Kayak launch, and install a new public boat ramp on Pretty Lake [1].

COVID-19

During the pandemic, Smigiel favored flexibility in rules for outdoor dining and grants to help small businesses stay open during the pandemic [1].

Economy

Smigiel favors reducing the real estate tax from $1.25 per $100 to $1.20 per $100. He wants the city manager to assess the tax revenue and see if the rate can be reduced by another five cents in 2025. Smigiel also wants the personal property tax to be reduced to 55% assessment for any vehicle value over $20,000. Smigiel advocates for funding for small businesses to apply for grants that support safety measures like cybersecurity in addition to equipment for quicker establishment. He is against raising real estate taxes to pay for an arena at Military Circle. He wants to attract businesses related to the maritime industry, including the new windmill farm being built off of Virginia’s coast. Smigiel has voted against every tax increase proposed in the budget process since he has been on council. He has eliminated the boat tax and late fees for six months when paying taxes, supporting extensions for taxes. Smigiel helped reestablish an Ocean View Business Association to support small businesses and pushed for a Tourism Development Grant Zone in Ocean View to attract new restaurants and a hotel [1].

Education

Smigiel supports the revenue sharing formula to provide additional revenue for schools and students. He wants to lobby state legislatures through the Virginia Municipal League to support state funding for school construction. He also seeks additional funding for the school system to pay for upgraded security equipment. Smigiel has proposed the Lifelong Learning Commission, which supports learning for all ages. He favors investing over $750 million in new school construction and renovations [1].

Infrastructure

Smigiel plans to work with the City of Norfolk Office of Resiliency and the Army Corp of Engineers on the Phase 2 implementation of the Pretty Lake Flood Gate and infrastructure improvements and ensure citizen engagement in the process. He supports funding to upgrade the outfall pipes and help improve precipitation flooding. He also wants additional funding for Pretty Lake to be dredged. Smigiel looks to maintain the funding in the 2026 budget for adding sidewalks, better drainage, and streetscaping on Chesapeake Blvd. between Little Creek Rd. and Fishermans Road [1].

Smigiel pushed for $9 million in sand replenishment funds in Ocean View and an additional $6 million for updates. He also secured funding of over $2 million to resurface Shore Dr., Little Creek Rd., Azalea Garden Rd. and the Pinewell Section of Ocean View Avenue and over $500,000 to add sidewalks on the north side of Little Creek Rd. from Shore Dr. to Pythian Ave. Smigiel supported millions of dollars in ADA ramp investment and obtained over $11 million to upgrade the storm water system and streetscape in East Ocean View over the next five years [6].

Smigiel has supported a city flooding study including the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Study [7, 8] and a review of the Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 2020 to help Norfolk citizens paying flood insurance to get a reduced rate [9]. He also supported working with Waze and other GIS/GPS technology to track flooded road conditions [10].

Public Safety

Smigiel wants to maintain high pay for police and work with Norfolk’s sheriff on pay parity between deputies and police officers. He supports improved leadership in the police department and video surveillance in all major parks. He advocates for license plate readers to catch criminals. He wants to bring back the Bar Task Force and wants a regional task force of citizens, elected officials, and law enforcement to fight crime.

Smigiel has advocated for $12,000 retention bonuses to retain police officers, obtained a Master Police pay scale for over 10% increases in pay, secured $5 million in the 2023 budget to replace all street lights with brighter, LED lights, and worked with the police to shut down Dragon Vapes and Lucky Vapes on E. Little Creek Rd. that were operating illegal gambling machines. He also secured funding to buy and get rid of the Beach Pub after associated gun violence incidents, worked with the Pinewell Civic League to add video surveillance at Community Beach, supported hiring the Newark Street Team to reduce violence, and supported Project Safe Neighborhood targeting gang violence [1].

Endorsements

Sheriff Joe Baron

Sources

1 Re-elect Smigiel
2 Ballotpedia
3 Facebook
4 The City of Norfolk
5 VPAP
6 Norfolk
7 13 News Now
8 Wavy
9 Norfolk
10 TITAN
11 Twitter
12 Instagram
13 LinkedIn