New pros­e­cu­tor

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.

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