Is Mark Herring another elected in VA who gets elected by Black voters then ignores their issues? Current Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring wants to be in his position for another four years? Why? What exactly is Herring’s record now and why should Virginia’s Black voters want him to return to the office of Attorney General? Where can his progress be measured? By the end of 2016 we need to see more than press releases. We also need to ask the hard question: Has Virginia’s Attorney General been a vigorous “guardian of the public interest.”
Currently, Herring is silent on issues that disproportionately impact African Americans in Virginia. Voters should look closely at his record well before 2017. The Commonwealth does not need unengaged tourists in office who want to quietly hold position because they fear losing a race for higher office. The Commonwealth needs vigorous and engaged leaders who are active participants who are not afraid to push for changes that will improve the lives of all VIrginians. Today, Virginia’s AG says he “is fiercely and fearlessly committed to promoting justice…” but he remains silent on several major issues. Unfortunately, silence is not a new tactic for many of Virginia’s elected officials.
Herring was absent for two recent justice reform forums in Richmond and Norfolk. Other officials attended, including Harold Clarke, Director or VA’s Department of Corrections and Secretary of the Commonwealth LeVar Stoney as well as local judges and sheriffs. Herring was a no-show when the Greater Hampton Roads Black Democrats launched their group in Norfolk on August 6. Ralph Northam, Stephanie Morales, Daun Hester and Garry McCollum attended, as did former Asst. U.S. Attorney Justin Fairfax, who came within 4,684 votes of beating Herring in 2013. If Herring could fix the never-ending problem of Black voters having to wait in line 4 hours to vote in Chesapeake and Norfolk on election day maybe he’d win by wider margins.
Herring has been silent on the killing of William Chapman, a teenager shot dead by a Portsmouth Police Officer who has now killed two unarmed people in four years. Allegedly someone called the police on Chapman for shoplifting yet there is no evidence Chapman stole anything. Herring has also been silent on releasing the report on the St. Patrick’s Day beating of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson. Why the Attorney General remains a tourist on these issues is unknown.
Herring has said nothing about the fact that Virginia is number one in America for sending students to the police. Silence followed by inaction from those we put in office is unacceptable. If the Attorney General wants to serve for another four years he must demonstrate interest on these issues. We don’t elect people so they can ignore important issues. These are not issues to be name dropped at a church on the weekend before election day in 2017. The Attorney General should be engaged in policy on these issues with other stakeholders right now. We see other Attorney Generals around the country taking a much more active leadership role to promote justice. That’s not the case currently Virginia.
It’s noteworthy that without Black voters neither Gov. Terry McAuliffe or AG Herring would be in office. Black voters need to ask themselves: Do we really want to sit through another four years of silence from Herring on issues impacting us? If Herring is scared of running for Governor or Lt. Governor that’s understandable given his record of close elections, but Virginia’s voters deserve better than a place-holder for another four years. We hope to see a lot more from this Attorney General before 2017.