New Virginia Beach city councilor could be the deciding vote for collective bargaining

January 13 • 2024

New City Councilor Hutcheson with Local 2924 President Gonano

Retired-active Local 2924 member David “Hutch” Hutcheson won a seat on the Virginia Beach City Council in a special election on January 9. Hutcheson’s win means firefighters will have another advocate on the city council to pass a collective bargaining ordinance.

“On behalf of all Local 2924, I want to congratulate Hutch on his campaign victory. He was a great fire chief, and I know he’ll make an even better city council member,” Virginia Beach Local 2924 President Max Gonano said. “We look forward to working with him not just on collective bargaining but all public safety and community improvement issues.” 

Several Virginia municipalities have passed collective bargaining ordinances since legislation allowing the practice became state law in 2021. Local 2924 members are hoping Virginia Beach is next.  

The mayor created a special collective bargaining task force in 2023, including representatives from the city’s unions, to make recommendations on the bargaining process. The task force submitted its recommendations in a report in November 2023.  

The city council vote was put on hold until the special election results were in. The election was held to fill the city council seat left open when Rocky Holcomb vacated the position to serve as Virginia Beach’s sheriff.  

Hutcheson retired in December 2022 after 35 years with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, the last five as fire chief. Upon retirement, he decided to serve the community he grew up in and to run for the open seat.  

The other two candidates – John Napier, a business lawyer, and Teresa Gladney, the Hampton Roads Disability Claim’s Resource Center CEO – said they would not support the collective bargaining ordinance. 

Local 2924 all in for Hutcheson

The IAFF and Local 2924 went “all in” to support Hutcheson. Not only did the IAFF make a FIREPAC contribution to his campaign, but the Political Action Department assisted Local 2924 with campaign strategy advice and messaging for door hangers and mailers. 

Hutcheson won 47 percent of the vote and 10 of 11 of Virginia Beach’s voting districts.

“I am humbled by all the support I received from the IAFF and my brothers and sisters from Local 2924,” Hutcheson said. “Together, we knocked on the doors of hundreds of voters to discuss the issues face-to-face, and it worked. I look forward to working on behalf of the fire fighters and my constituents.”