The next year in Chesterfield should be a good exercise in seeing if political civility and commonsense governance is possible. It will also provide proof of how far urban sensibilities have reached into the suburbs.
For the first time in three decades, county residents elected a Democrat as their commonwealth’s attorney. Scott Miles will soon take office to fill the last year of the term vacated by Billy Davenport. He’ll hardly be a standard prosecutor: He campaigned promising sweeping changes to the way the county handles law enforcement, particularly in regard to drug-related offenses, bail, and revoking driver’s licenses.
But his margin for error could be small, and he’ll need to quickly build support for his ideas if he hopes to win again next year, when the full four-year term for the office comes up for election.
Miles barely beat an opponent who campaigned on almost diametrically opposed views, so he hardly enters office with an overwhelming mandate from the people.
We know the usual move in the political playbook on both sides of the aisle is to assume every victory is unanimous and to quickly forget the other guy, but this is a case in which prudence would be wiser.
We won’t argue with Miles’ ideas. We’ve supported the elimination of cash bail in Richmond for most nonviolent offenses. We firmly believe drug addiction should be treated as the illness it is, rather than as a crime. And the idea of allowing more people to keep access to transportation — even if they’re facing a little trouble with the law — seems wise, too, especially in a county as car-centric as Chesterfield.
In his statement after winning, Miles said he was “humbled” in victory.
We hope he means it. He has big ideas that deserve serious attention. In such an evenly split community, though, we hope he builds the consensus needed to make those changes lasting and meaningful.
The county’s new commonwealth’s attorney will need to quickly build support for his ideas if he wants them to last.