Beach Councilwoman Jessica Abbott Resigns
Councilwoman Jessica Abbott, the Kempsville representative on the Virginia Beach City Council, announced her resignation today due to medical concerns. She had served as a district representative for four and a half years.
"I want to express my deepest appreciation to the people of this fantastic city for the opportunity to be their representative," she said. "It's not an honor I took lightly or a job I took without expecting to give it 100%. Unfortunately, some health concerns have recently surfaced. I'm not going to offer details other than to say, I must take some time to focus on my health and well-being."
Abbott was first elected to serve on the Virginia Beach City Council four years ago at the age of 27, being the first Millennial and the youngest candidate ever elected in the city. Abbott was re-elected by Beach voters to serve a second four-year term in November 2020 by a wide margin. She won with 120,136 votes - the most ever for a contested City Council race - and her vote total even exceeded most of the federal-level candidates on the ballot.
"While my decision to resign weighs heavily on my heart, I know it is the right thing to do for me, for my family, and for the residents of this city. In 2016 I ran to be the Kempsville representative because I love Virginia Beach, and I love the Kempsville District. Virginia Beach and Kempsville deserve a representative who can be 100% focused on the city's needs, as public service is always about putting your community first. Regrettably, that is not something I can do right now."
During the past two budget cycles in the pandemic, Abbott had taken on more of a leadership role with crafting and brokering support for the City's $2.2 billion budget. She worked to ensure flexible budgets that supported funding the city's priorities without tax or fee increases - which were both unanimously voted in favor by the City Council over the past two years. On Facebook, Mayor Bobby Dyer gave "a special thanks to Jessica Abbott for her out-of-the-box ideas, diligent advocacy and attention to various complex issues" in regards to the budget.
Abbott, 32, who is a small business owner, wife of a Beach teacher and mother of two young children, reflected on what made her approach to politics unique. "I really value the insight of the community, and I wanted to be a voice for people - especially for those who didn't feel like they were always heard." Abbott was also motivated by improving the city's livability for families of all income levels and championed fiscal responsibility.
Among some of Abbott's accomplishments was securing increased funding for flooding mitigation projects and green space and investments in public safety and education. Last month, she successfully advocated for the city to pursue a RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) federal grant for funding the westernmost three miles of the Norfolk-Southern right-of-way into an urban trail. The ordinance she co-sponsored to apply for the grant proposal was unanimously supported. She has advocated for a Rails-to-Trails idea during her first campaign as an alternative use of the eleven miles that runs across Virginia Beach. She hopes that if the grant is successful, a trail can eventually connect to the oceanfront. "I'm optimistic that we can connect our community with an urban trail system," she noted.
"Working for the great people of this city has been an honor and a privilege that I will always cherish. I want to thank the City staff who have always lent their knowledge and aid to me, my colleagues on Council, who have shared their insight and experiences with me, and the residents who keep me informed, enlightened, and amazed by their perseverance and resilience."
"Even though Kempsville and Virginia Beach face many challenges, I believe we have an incredible future ahead of us. I am hopeful that one day I may be able to return and earn the opportunity to serve our city again. Until then, I hope this Council will appoint someone who will be dedicated to serving the people of Virginia Beach to fill the Kempsville seat temporarily, as well as schedule a special election this November so that the Kempsville District remains represented and reflective of this unique community."