Photo by David Uhrin
Running on a platform based on reinstating trust in local government, Robert “Bobby” Dyer was inaugurated as Virginia Beach’s new mayor this past November following a special election held in succession to Will Sessoms’ resignation earlier in the year. An outspoken proponent for the public’s inclusion in the decision-making process, Dyer emerged as a candid candidate and victor of the popular vote to serve the city through 2020.
As Virginia Beach stands at the forefront of enormous economic developments that could affect our entire region—including the new Sports Center and possible Dome site project with a surf park—Dyer wants to ensure the people are well-represented while maintaining an open dialogue with each city within Coastal Virginia.
Born in New Jersey, Dyer left high school early in 1968 to join the U.S. Marine Corps prior to earning a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Saint Louis University, a master’s degree in public administration at Fairleigh Dickinson University and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Regent University. In 1990 when Dyer was visiting a friend in the Lake Christopher neighborhood, he decided to buy a house, and ever since, Virginia Beach has been home for him and his family.
Dyer first served as a city councilman for the Centerville District for 14 years with a resolve to improve the city’s government. “You can either complain about things or try to do it,” Dyer asserts. “I ran unsuccessfully in 2002, but I learned a lot, and you know I won an election in 2004 and I’ve been here since.”
When needing a brief recess from politics while campaigning for the mayor’s office, Dyer spent election night dining at Imperial Palace for some Chinese cuisine. He regards the restaurant as one of his favorites along with Pulcinella Italian Restaurant and, being a Jersey native, of course The Route 58 Delicatessen. “Those are the big three, and also Ynot Pizza, I’m a big fan of theirs.”
During his term, Dyer will oversee how the city handles many of its challenges in concerns to management of stormwater through sea level rise, education, transportation, public safety and economic development. However, these responsibilities come as a part of the city he’s proud to serve. “I love the people, and I love the fact that we’re blessed with an ocean, we’re blessed with the military … it’s a very religious community, and it’s a great place to live and work,” Dyer reflects. “I’m just enamored with the people and the spirit that’s here.”