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Kenneth Alexander vows to curb violence in Norfolk following his election. (Courtesy photo)

Paul Fraim was mayor of Norfolk, Va. for twenty-two years. On May 3, Kenneth Alexander became the first Black man elected as mayor of Norfolk.

Winning over half of the votes, Alexander’s landslide is historic. Not only is he the first new mayor of the city since 1994, he is also the first African American mayor for the city. The US Census estimates that African Americans make up over 40% of Norfolk’s population.

“This speaks volumes for the city of Norfolk and it speaks well for our people. We are diverse. We are moving and continue to move in the right direction,” mayor-elect Kenneth Alexander told the AFRO.

While his win is significant, Alexander plans to represent everyone in Norfolk not just the Black community. “The majority of people who cast ballots that day voted for the best qualified person who happened to be African American,” said Alexander.  Alexander won with 51.6% of the vote, doing well with both Black and White voters. After being in the Virginia General Assembly and a state senator, Alexander has worked to help the state of Virginia in several ways. He supported legislation that aims to help people who use mental health services, improve the foster care system, and require day care centers to notify parents when their child is injured.

“He’s been fighting for Norfolk for the past twenty years,” said his campaign consultant, and Norfolk native Robert Williams. “He’s spiritually and morally invested in the city.”

Alexander will take office on July 1. As mayor, Alexander said he plans to improve the education system. According to the Virginia Department of Education, over 60% of children in Norfolk City Public Schools are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. Alexander wants to work closely with the school board and provide community support for children and their families. “The health of a community can be measured by the quality of their education system, that’s their financial health, the social culture, arts. It’s ultimately measured by their K-12 system,” said Alexander.

In addition, Alexander said he will attempt to curb gun violence. Analysts at FindTheHome, a real estate listing site, ranked Norfolk 28 out of 30 cities with the highest murder rate per capita. Baltimore, in contrast, is ranked number three. To combat gun violence Alexander said he will build up the middle class and provide community engagement.

Alexander will be succeeding current mayor Paul Fraim. Fraim was appointed to the position of mayor in 1994 by the Norfolk City Council. In 2006 Norfolk began having direct mayoral elections. Fraim became the first popularly elected mayor with 78% of the votes. He continued to be reelected, until this year when he chose not to run. Fraim endorsed Alexander during his campaign, and Alexander said that the two of them speak daily.

Alexander also said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the state of Virginia. He told the AFRO “I look forward to listening and working together and continuing to grow our city.”