Meyera E. Oberndorf
|Meyera E. Oberndorf|
|23rd Mayor of Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|Preceded by||Robert G. Jones|
|Succeeded by||William D. Sessoms, Jr.|
July 1, 1988 – January 1, 2009
|Vice Mayor of Virginia Beach|
July 1, 1986 – June 30, 1988
|Preceded by||Reba McClanan|
|Succeeded by||Robert Fentress|
|Member, Virginia Beach City Council|
July 1, 1976 – June 30, 1988
|Member, Public Library Board|
1966 – June 30, 1976
|Born||February 10, 1941|
|Alma mater||Old Dominion University (B.A.)|
Meyera E. Oberndorf (born February 10, 1941) was the 23rd mayor of Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was Virginia Beach's longest serving mayor, and she previously served as the city's vice mayor. She was the city's first female mayor and was the first woman elected to public office in the more than 300-year history of Virginia Beach or its predecessor, Princess Anne County.
Life and career
Though she was Virginia Beach's first directly elected Mayor, her role was primarily to serve as the chair during City Council meetings, of which she has been a member since 1976, and to officiate at a wide array of ceremonial functions. This is because Virginia Beach has a council-manager form of government. Virginia Beach is the largest populated city in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In 1989, prior to an annual end of the summer event sponsored by African American college students, Oberndorf announced that the event had grown too large to handle and was not welcome in the city. Combined with city officials denying use of public facilities for the event and new ordinances which lead to the arrests and citations of hundreds of attendees for mostly minor offenses such as jay-walking and loud music, Oberndorf's statement heightened racial tensions which exploded with the "Greekfest" riots in which over 100 beachfront stores were damaged. Despite her claim that NAACP assertions of poor racial relations between the city and African Americans were "poppycock," city actions in 1989 and in the years following so damaged race relations that it wasn't until two decades later, at the tail end of Obendorf's long-time mayoralty, that Virginia Beach again began to have success drawing large numbers of African Americans to the resort beachfront.
In April 2007, Oberndorf was criticized by Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly claimed she mishandled a situation involving illegal immigrant Alfredo Ramos, who was accused and later convicted of causing a fatal drunk driving accident on March 30, 2007. O'Reilly said that Virginia Beach should have deported the immigrant once they realized he was in the country illegally, since he had prior alcohol-related convictions, including DUI and public drunkenness. However, Virginia Beach didn't learn of the immigrant's status until after the accident.
On November 5, 2008, Oberndorf was defeated by Will Sessoms, ending her two decade run as mayor. On December 10, 2008, before her term expired, the city council unanimously voted to rename the city's Central Library the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library.
Since leaving her position as mayor, Oberndorf appeared in a series of commercials for ABNB Federal Credit Union in 2009. She was appointed to the Virginia State Library Board in 2009 by Gov. Tim Kaine, serving in that post until her resignation in December 2012.
Her husband, Roger Oberndorf died from complications of a brain injury in October 2012. Following her husband's death, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She is also a breast cancer survivor and has two daughters.
- "Official City of Virginia Beach Website". City of Virginia Beach. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- Why Virginia Beach Happened. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- Virginia Beach Is Quiet After Violence. The New York Times; retrieved 2013-09-01.
- The painful legacy of 1989's Greekfest endures. The Virginian-Pilot; retrieved 2013-09-01.
- "Central Library Renamed for Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf". City of Virginia Beach. December 10, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
- "Former Va. Beach mayor's new challenge: Alzheimer's" (PilotOnline.com article)
Robert G. Jones
|Mayor of Virginia Beach, Virginia
William D. Sessoms, Jr.
|Vice Mayor of Virginia Beach