11/15/2019, 6 a.m.
If nothing else, last week’s elections showed us that change is coming.
This is the first time Democrats will control the state Senate, House of Delegates and the governor’s office since 1993.
It’s also the first time the top prosecutor in all three jurisdictions — Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield — will be a woman. Colette McEachin was elected commonwealth’s attorney in Richmond, Shannon Taylor was re-elected in Henrico County and Stacey Davenport was elected for the first time in Chesterfield County.
And for the first time, Richmond and Henrico both will have female sheriffs. Henrico voters elected Col. Alisa A. Gregory to become the new sheriff at midnight Dec. 31, while Richmond Sheriff Antionette V. Irving has held office since 2018.
Another strong signal of change: Democrats, with their new-found majority in the 100-member House of Delegates, chose Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn of Northern Virginia as the new speaker of the House. She will be the first woman and the first Jewish person to hold that position in the centuries-old history of the Virginia General Assembly.
In early interviews, Delegate Filler-Corn has made clear her priorities: Gun violence prevention legislation, voting rights protection, anti-discrimination laws, climate protection, increased public school funding and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Those are all important issues we have advocated for repeatedly in this space, particularly as legislation supporting those changes has been blocked by Republicans for years.
With GOP obstruction out of the way, now is the time for action. We urge Democrats to move boldly during the upcoming General Assembly session to enact many of the critical measures Virginia voters have been clamoring for many years.
This is not the time for Democrats to be timid or to inch forward with legislation that makes only minor progress. This is the time to make the advances we all have been calling for.
With the promise of change comes blowback, and we hope Democrats have the backbone and moxie to face down the challenges. Already, we have an indication, with some of the messages posted in response to articles on media outlets’ websites following the Nov. 5 election.
“Get prepared Va — buy your gun now,” a woman posted on a Richmond television station’s site. “Because before it’s over with we are all going to need to protect ourselves.”
There also were racist and anti-Muslim postings by some in response to the upset victory by Democrat Ghazala F. Hashmi over Republican incumbent Sen. Glen H. Sturtevant Jr. in the 10th Senate District that includes parts of Richmond, Chesterfield and Powhatan.
Dr. Hashmi, founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, will be the first Muslim to serve in the Virginia Senate.
We have seen the rise of hate in this country in response to the presidency of Barack H. Obama and the buy-in of those racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and misogynistic ideas by President Trump. We hope that those sentiments, which threaten to destroy our nation, will not be tolerated or allowed to overtake the commonwealth.
This is a time for progress. And we hope the changes stemming from last week’s elections will usher in positive movement.