Friday, April 19, 2024

New City Council could be the most diverse in Virginia Beach history

Sabrina Wooten getting sworn in as a member of Virginia Beach City Council for the Centerville District (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
Sabrina Wooten getting sworn in as a member of Virginia Beach City Council for the Centerville District (Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The new City Council is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday.

With that ceremony, council will have more African-American members on it than at any other time.

Two, to be exact.

A gay man could also be seated on council as well.

With the election of Sabrina Wooten, Aaron Rouse, David Nygaard, the 2019-2021 Virginia Beach City Council will be more diverse than it’s ever been.

Wooten and Rouse will be the first two African-Americans in Virginia Beach history to serve together on City Council, according to the city’s website. Wooten and Rouse are only the third and fourth African-Americans ever elected to city council, respectively.

Related story: Multiple recounts in Virginia Beach a first in state’s history

John L. Perry was the first African-American to be elected to Virginia Beach City Council in 1986. He was defeated during his reelection in 1990.

Louisa Strayhorn was the first African-American woman elected to council and served the Kempsville District from 1994 to 1998. Amelia Ross-Hammond was the second and represented the same district as Strayhorn from 2012 to 2016. Current Councilwoman Jessica Abbott defeated Ross-Hammond during her reelection bid in 2016. Wooten is now the third African-American woman elected to council.

If Nygaard is seated on City Council — he still has two lawsuits pending against him related to his residency during the 2018 election — he will be the first openly gay person to sit on Virginia Beach City Council.

White men will comprise five of the 11 members of council, along with four white women. The split between the number of men and women represented will be as equal as it can be with council’s 11 members; six will be men, five will be women.

Rouse said he’s looking forward to taking “Virginia Beach into the future together, with a new generation of leadership on City Council.”

Follow Joshua on Twitter @WeinsteinReport or email him at

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an email from David Nygaard sent to Southside Daily on Friday at 3:30 p.m., he wrote “I was sworn into office Dec 14 and not only did my term begin Jan 1 and my predecessor’s term ended Dec 31 but I became a city employee Jan 1 with a badge and access to the city buildings. My predecessor’s employment ceased and he no longer has a badge or access to buildings. I started work as Councilman Jan 1. I have already been seated/ taken my seat. I’m just not physically sitting in the chair yet. The injunction seeks to keep me ‘from being seated’ but I’ve taken the office and the seat. The term commenced and his term ended. The injunction is simply asking the courts to bar me from voting and sitting in his old chair. I’ve been working [since Jan. 1] and I am being paid as a city employee.”

Southside Daily attempted to schedule an interview with Nygaard on Jan. 2, prior to the publication of this article, but was unsuccessful.

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