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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion Alumnus Kenny Alexander Elected Norfolk Mayor

By Brendan O'Hallarn

State Sen. Kenny Alexander became not only the first African-American mayor of Norfolk with his overwhelming victory in the May 3 municipal election, but also the first Old Dominion University graduate elected to the post.

Alexander received 16,352 votes, or 52 percent of the total. City Councilman Andy Protogyrou came in second with 25 percent of the vote, and Sheriff Bob McCabe was third with 23 percent. Alexander will succeed Paul Fraim, who has been mayor since 1994.

Alexander graduated in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Old Dominion. He represents the 5th District of Norfolk and Chesapeake as a state senator in the Virginia General Assembly, following 10 years representing the 89th House of Delegates District.

"Kenny is a longtime friend of mine and a tremendous advocate for his alma mater while in Richmond," said Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick. "I had a chance to talk with him last night and offer congratulations on behalf of the Monarch family."

At a boisterous victory party Tuesday night at a downtown hotel, Alexander played down the racial significance of his election, telling The Virginian-Pilot, "I'm a Norfolkian. I'm a Virginian."

He said his victory "speaks to Norfolk. It speaks to who we are. We are a diverse community. We are a city of firsts."

In a candidate debate April 13 hosted by the University's Student Government Association, Alexander celebrated his Old Dominion roots, saying it was "good to be home."

He noted during the forum that if a private industry contributed $2.1 billion to the local economy -- the University's annual economic impact on Hampton Roads -- "we would be doing whatever we could to make sure that company is happy here in Norfolk."

With his administration, "you would certainly have a seat in the mayor's office," Alexander said, adding he would work to bring a light rail link to Old Dominion.

Alexander, president of the family-owned Metropolitan Funeral Service, is a Norfolk native who has served in many elected and appointed public positions over the past 20 years.

He is a member of the Senate committees on Commerce and Labor, Finance, Transportation and Privileges and Elections. Alexander also serves on the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, the High Speed Rail Compact Commission for Virginia and North Carolina, the Special Joint Subcommittee to Consult on the Plan to Close State Training Centers and the Joint Commission on the Future Competitiveness of Virginia Higher Education.

Prior to being elected to the General Assembly, Alexander was a member of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority, Planning Commission, Human Services Commission and the blue ribbon commission that studied direct election of the mayor.

A 1985 graduate of Lake Taylor High School, Alexander was honored last October at the Norfolk Education Foundation's Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala. Alexander and his wife, Donna Burnley Alexander, have two school-aged children, Kenneth II and David. Alexander, who drew support from Fraim and other state and local officials, will begin his term in July.

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