McEachin, Wade in the 4th District

Published 12:54 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2016

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

While the weather may be getting cooler, election season is heating up in Isle of Wight and Surry counties. 

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State Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, and Republican Henrico County Sheriff Michael Wade are facing off this November for an open seat on the recently revamped 4th Congressional District, which now includes Surry County. 

The 4th District underwent significant boundary changes this year due to a court-ordered restructuring of the 3rd District, after judges deemed that Virginia legislators had condensed too many black voters into it, limiting their influence in neighboring districts.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Along with Surry County, the reconfigured 4th District now includes the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. The recent restructuring gave a Democratic edge to the district, prompting representative Randy Forbes (R-4th), who has held the district for 15 years, to give up the seat and try his luck in the 2nd District, where he subsequently lost in the primaries to state Del. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia Beach. 

As for McEachin and Wade, both live outside of the 4th District in Henrico County, which is permitted for congressional representatives, and both boast an extensive background in public service.

Wade, 60, served as a member of the Henrico Division of Police for 22 years prior to being elected sheriff of Henrico County in 1999, where he has stated he worked to introduce a more transparent public information office for the department and to initiate a “nationally recognized” drug rehabilitation program for inmates with substance abuse addictions in the Henrico jails.

McEachin, 55, a lawyer who co-founded and co-owns McEachin and Gee law firm in Richmond, served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1996-2002  and then again from 2006-08. He has been a member of the Senate of Virginia since 2008, representing the 9th District, which consists of areas in Henrico County, Richmond and Charles City County. McEachin says he has spent his career “fighting for the underdog,” working for the state to “create jobs, improve public schools, and expand access to health care.”

On economic issues listed on his campaign’s website, McEachin has called for a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave legislation, along with “job-creating investments in infrastructure” to restore deteriorating roads and bridges. For budget and spending, McEachin says he will fight for “balanced budgets that fund critical services while keeping taxes low,” and will oppose “balancing the budget on the backs of working families,” while defending federal investments in education, infrastructure and research.

On how he would amend spending and the budget, Wade cites his success as Henrico County sheriff, where he says he has cut the budget by “eliminating waste and duplicative spending.”

“If we can cut our spending here in Henrico County — we can cut it in Washington,” Wade states in his plan, which calls for a balanced budget amendment and eliminating unnecessary spending or “duplicitous departments” spending money from the federal budget, according to his website.

Another of Wade’s positions is mental health care reform, which he states is affecting the economy, national security, the health care system and individual rights (citing the 2nd Amendment, which he argues is used as a “scapegoat” to avoid discussing the real issue).

“Our current leaders in Washington and Richmond — my opponent in this race included — have done nothing to address this issue,” Wade states in his reform plan on his website.

On health care, McEachin advocates that it should be “considered a human right.”

 “No one should have to forgo basic treatment for want of insurance,” McEachin states on his campaign’s website. “No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”

McEachin’s plan if elected is to work to improve and fortify the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicaid for working families, and fight against movements to replace Medicare with a voucher system.

One of Wade’s biggest issues is centered on dealing with illegal immigration, an issue he claims to have encountered extensively as a sheriff. The Republican lays out a proposal that, after securing the country’s border, would put non-offending illegal immigrants on a five-year probation, where they would be monitored and perform community service before obtaining permanent legal status in the U.S.

“This solution upholds the rule of law, doesn’t give any free passes, and enables us to fix the issue and integrate these individuals (many of whom have already been here for years) into the fabric of our diverse nation,” Wade states.

McEachin advocates universal background checks and the renewal of a ban on assault weapons in an effort to reduce gun violence. Along with this, McEachin states he intends to work to fight over-incarceration and correct “biases and disparities” in policing and sentencing.

“We must also confront and correct outdated thinking, discriminatory policies, and the harms they produce,” according to a statement on McEachin’s website.

Other issues McEachin advocates on his site include building a greener and more sustainable society, and maintaining jobs, assets and infrastructure for the military.

Neither candidate responded by deadline for email requests for comment.   {/mprestriction}