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Black Community Opinions

Local Voices: Elections Have Consequences

george reed
By George Reed

We stand this year on the edge of making history in the upcoming June election Chesapeake. We have an opportunity to elect an African-American in the 4th Congressional District. We have not had an African-American elected from the 4th Congressional in Virginia since 1888 when John Mercer Langston was elected. His election caused a bitter division between both racial and party lines. Fearing division in the Republican Party, Frederick Douglas vehemently opposed Langston’s candidacy as his seat was contested for two years. However he won the election and served from 1890 to 1891.

To make this historic change will require African-Americans to not only vote, but vote in larger numbers. In the past, Blacks have turned out in dismally low numbers compared to other ethnic groups. Only about 20 percent of African-Americans in predominantly Black neighborhoods vote in the City of Chesapeake. Whites, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders have a stake in this election provided they want progressive change, greater freedom, and prosperity. The 4th Congressional District is a mixture of six cities and eleven counties with a population of more than 740 thousand people. It is diverse demographically in terms of suburbs, urban and urban blight, rural communities and farms, poverty and everything in between.

The question facing the voters in the 4th Congressional District, is who can best serve the interests and needs of this diverse district? Dr. Ward’s opponent, Senator Donald McEachin, who by the way does not live in the district, or Chesapeake City Councilwoman, Dr. Ella Ward. Senator Donald McEachin is well funded by the tobacco companies, utility companies, trial layers, bankers, and real estate companies. Legislatively, what has he done to eradicate the blight in Richmond during his 10 years as a State Legislator?

He serves on the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Courts of Justice, and Privileges and Elections Committees. He has not positioned himself in ten years to effect any major changes. Quite frankly, I could not find anything he has done to effect change in Richmond or any other place in the 4th District. He said “he is running for Congress to make a difference for citizens in his district, and noted that he has fought for the underdog in his law practice.” Maybe he has fought for the underdog in his law practice, but nothing his legislative history shows that he has done so in the General Assembly. What has he done for his current district (district 7 because he does NOT live in the 4th District) to aid economic development, eradicate urban blight, and improve the quality of life for his constituents?

Dr. Ella P. Ward, unlike State Senator Donald McEachin, is not funded by big business interests, but by small donations from citizens like you and me. She is very knowledgeable about the concerns, needs, and problems in the 4th Congressional District, and she has the political acumen, and skill sets to bring about change. She wants to bring jobs back to America; protect Social Security and Medicare; enhance support for our military and veterans; support meaningful education reform; and stop the gridlock in Congress. She also wants to close the loop holes for billionaires that have protected the Super Rich while destroying the middle class in America.

During her tenure on Chesapeake City Council, the City has shown real progress that has affected all citizens. The real estate tax rate has been reduced from $1.21 to $1.05 per $100 of assessed value; decreased the tax burden on Senior Citizens; increased educational spending for the school system; built new fire stations; supported public safety; upgraded the City’s libraries; revitalized South Norfolk; replaced the Jordan and Gilmerton Bridges.

She also has worked with other councilmen to secure funds for a new Dominion Boulevard, and worked to secure funding the High Rise and AIW (Deep Creek) bridges. Councilwoman Ward has a clear record of working within the Democratic Party and across the aisle to get things done to help all demographics. This is why, my beloved City has one of the highest median family income, highest owner occupied household in the region, and one of the best educational systems in the Commonwealth. Her experience and proven ability to get things done has served us well, and she is deserving of our support.

During her tenure on Chesapeake City Council, Chesapeake has become one of the leading economic engines in Southampton Roads. She will help bring about the same kind of prosperity in the 4th Congressional District. She has won five local elections, and when she ran for Congress in 2012, she garnered 42.9 percent of the votes in a Gerrymandered District that favored Republican Candidates. This time, the 4th Congressional District boundaries have been changed to include many of the Democrats and African-Americans that were removed from the 4th Congressional District.

Dr. Ella Ward has served on the Chesapeake School Board and the Virginia Board of Education. She served five years as the vice president of the State Board, and she currently serves as Vice Chair of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission that serves 14 cities and counties, many of which are located in the 4th District. She has voted to help bring billions of dollars to the Hampton Roads Region over the next 20 years during her five years of service on the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Transportation Organization.

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She will use her experience to help assure that Federal and State dollars continue to come the Hampton Roads communities and the entire 4th District. She also serves on the Board of Visitors for Christopher Newport University, so she clearly has 16 years of local, regional, and State level experience to take to Washington. Dr. Ella Ward needs both our financial and boots on the ground support to win the June 14, 2016 primary against a well-funded opponent who basically represented big businesses. We need a representative that will bring greater economic development in our urban cities and rural counties, take care of our veterans, farmers, poor, seniors and disabled citizens. Visit www.ellawardforcongress and make a donation today.

We have a chance to make history, but more importantly, we have a candidate that I am confident will represent everyone in the 4th Congressional District. Your individual financial donations will help insure Dr. Ella Ward’s ability to compete with an out-of-district, and well funding by big business candidate. Donate today at www.ellawardforcongress. Remember, elections have consequences!
George F. Reed is a retired educator and resident of Chesapeake, Va.

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