Ruffieux: He can help EC council collaborate better
By Paul Nielsen
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Chris Ruffieux just moved to Elizabeth City last October but the long-time resident of the Hampton Roads, Virginia area believes that will be an advantage if he is elected to a Second Ward seat on City Council on Oct. 8.
Ruffieux (pronounced ruff-yuhrr) will face Second Ward incumbent councilors Anita Hummer and Gabriel Adkins in next month’s municipal election. Voters will choose two of the three candidates to represent the ward for two-year terms that begin in December.
Ruffieux, who has been an executive with Gannett Corp. in Chesapeake for 25 years, said he has “no disagreements” with Adkins or Hummer but feels that fresh faces are needed on the eight-member council.
“I’m looking at going into this with a very positive lens,” Ruffieux said. “Since I moved here last fall, I have really grown to love the people, the sense of community, the downtown, the waterfront. I have had a lot of people encourage me to run. I feel Elizabeth City has so much to offer, and there is tremendous potential for growth. I feel I can provide a fresh look.’’
Ruffieux feels building a successful future for Elizabeth City will require collaboration among the city’s institutions and businesses. Collaboration within City Council is a key part of that, he said.
“My No. 1 priority will be around collaboration,” Ruffieux said. “I believe that we must begin with thoughtful, positive and sincere collaboration on the City Council. I believe we must transform that and I do offer a fresh and forward way of looking at things.”
Ruffieux believes he can help council better collaborate if he’s elected.
“I’m curious and I ask a lot of questions. I connect well with people, and I believe I can work on some of the issues going on right now,” he said.
Ruffieux said he believes his corporate experience will benefit constituents of the Second Ward and the city as a whole.
“I am a vice-president and I operate part of the corporate technology division,” Ruffieux said. “I have experience leading teams both in the U.S. and internationally. I have managed large operating and capital budgets. I have been involved with mergers and acquisitions, contract negotiations, vendor selection and management, and team building and mentoring.’’
Ruffieux said focusing on bringing new industry to the city and helping current industries expand will be another one of his priorities if elected. He said promoting the continued revitalization of the downtown will help drive future economic development across the city.
“Incentives are part of that whole process, and something that is fairly standard in bringing businesses and jobs into cities like ours,” Ruffieux said. “It’s not just getting the jobs in. But once we get those jobs it is partnering with local institutions to see how we can really ramp up our existing workforce to fill those positions.’’
City Council recently voted to have a police officer stationed outside the council’s meeting room during closed sessions and escort members to their vehicle after council sessions if needed. Ruffieux wasn’t in on the meetings that led to the policy and he said he doesn’t know if it is necessary or not.
“It is unfortunate that our City Council is spending the time and effort having to deal with matters like that,” Ruffieux said.
Council has also recently discussed moving from two-year terms for council members to four-year terms. Ruffieux said he opposes the idea.
“No, two-year terms,” Ruffieux said. “In this day and age, things change. Two years is an eternity and putting somebody in for four years is just too long. It is too much. We are already in a situation, I believe, where we need to bring in over time fresh leadership.’’