11/6/2015, 9:03 a.m.
The voters have spoken, and we congratulate the winners of Tuesday’s General Assembly elections and local contests in Metro Richmond.
With Democrats losing in several key state Senate races, Republicans will retain control of the upper chamber of the state legislature.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, will have his work cut out for him during the remaining two years of his term. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has shot down many of his progressive initiatives in the past, including expansion of medical coverage for the most vulnerable and uninsured in the state and common sense gun control efforts.
January ushers in a critical session of the General Assembly because the state’s biennial budget will be considered. Where we put our money reflects our priorities. And we urge all lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — to work together for the highest good of the people of Virginia, including the least of those.
Health care, or the lack of it, can devastate families emotionally and financially. Expanding Medicaid to cover thousands of now uninsured Virginians would boost the health and health outcomes for scores of people, bring hundred of millions of federal dollars into the state and ease the burden of compensated care now shouldered by hospitals across the commonwealth. Having the federal-state program cover the uninsured would be a win-win for everyone involved.
We also look to the governor to continue to find avenues by which he can skirt the obstacles to progress and continue to make positive change in Virginia.
Voting, change and school discipline
In this space, we often sound a clarion call about voting and the impact of even a single vote. With that in mind, we call your attention to the Henrico School Board contest in the Fairfield District. In that squeaker of a race, the Rev. Roscoe D. Cooper III won by a mere 48 votes.
We look forward to Rev. Cooper’s service on the School Board, particularly the tough questions he can raise and the change his leadership can usher in. And we hope that his opponents, Tara Adams, the Rev. Marcus D. Martin and write-in candidate Pierre Green, will roll up their sleeves and work with him to address the school system’s crucial issues, chiefly to equalize funding for services and facilities in Eastern Henrico and to end disparate discipline for students of color and disabled students across the county.
Change starts at the ballot box. But it takes many pulling together in the same direction to make it happen. Our children are too important, and their needs too great, to tank this opportunity because of large egos, petty rivalries or hurt feelings.
The cellphone video of the vile takedown last week of a 16-year-old student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina by a school resource officer showed the world the uncut, unfiltered cruelty meted out on children of color each day in schools across America.
It also underscored the urgent necessity for school board members and sincere, untiring advocates to map a cohesive strategy in Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield and across the state to shut down the school-to-prison pipeline.