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Democratic lawyer challenges Cantor

For Wayne Powell, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District “isn’t personal, it’s Cantor.”

Powell, 62, is challenging Republican incumbent Eric Cantor of Henrico County for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Powell is one of the three candidates running for the spot on the Democratic ballot this fall.

For Powell, a self-styled progressive Democrat, the issues for the district are not just jobs, economy and education. He said a primary issue is Cantor himself.

“I can’t think of any positive thing he has done since he has become a congressmen,” Powell said.

Powell was born and raised in Richmond and graduated from the University of Richmond with a dual degree in Spanish and French. He later obtained a degree in law from the university and opened a law firm, Powell and Parish.

Powell was in the news recently when he agreed to give free legal representation to the 31 protesters who were arrested on the steps of the Virginia Capitol during a demonstration against legislation they view as an attack on women’s rights.

Powell has never been a politician. He served in the military for 30 years and as an assistant attorney general for the state. While in the Army, he was mobilized to command an intelligence unit after Sept. 11 and retired from active duty as a colonel in 2002.

Cantor has served as the 7th District representative since 2001 and has been the majority leader in the House since 2011. The district stretches from the Richmond suburbs north to Culpeper County and east to New Kent County. It has been a solidly Republican district, consistently electing GOP candidates in federal, state and local elections.

Ray Allen, senior strategist for Cantor’s campaign, said Cantor’s focus this fall would be to help small businesses. He called such businesses “the engine that can pull us out of the economic troubles.”

“The congressman is focused right now on what we can do to help small businesses create and retain jobs,” Allen said. For example, Cantor has proposed a 20 percent tax cut for small businesses.

For Powell, the issues are economic reform, infrastructure, renewable energy and education. While his campaign targets the Henrico congressman, there are several issues he emphasized as key to his platform.

“First and foremost, we need to repair the infrastructure,” Powell said. “There are 97 bridges just in the 7th District alone that need to be repaired.”

Powell said he wants to see higher taxes on Wall Street businesses, such as hedge funds, to offset costs of tax credits on things such as renewable energy.

“We need to subsidize, like we already do for big oil, renewable wind and solar energy,” Powell said.

He also wants to make higher education affordable by tying it to national service.

“I’m a product of public schools and college loans,” Powell said. “First and foremost, I think we should provide a four-year education for service to the country. You give us two years; we give you a four-year education.”

Outside of the issues, Powell is trying to make a presence for himself through social media. He refuses to take money from “super PACs” (political action committees); instead, he is using social media to promote his campaign. The Powell campaign has used several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Web aggregator Reddit to reach voters.

“I can’t be bought,” Powell said. “I’m a latecomer; I didn’t have a computer until I was 40. But I think it is important to be available and transparent. I plan to remain a part of that when I go into Congress. I’ll still go on social media such as Reddit and do frequent town halls.”

Powell is one of three seeking the Democratic nomination for the 7th District seat. The other two candidates are David Hunsicker, a retired Air Force member and real estate broker, and Jim Phillips, an attorney and college professor. The Democratic caucuses will be held in April.

“I think they are both good Democrats, and anyone is better than Cantor. However, the biggest thing that separates me from Phillips is my military and small business experience,” Powell said.

“With regards to Mr. Hunsicker, I don’t know much about his résumé, but I think the nature and breadth of my military work separates me from him. Also, me being born and raised in the 7th District, and I think that differentiates him from me.”

Caucuses will be held in each county on April 14 or 16. Then a convention will be held April 28 to announce the nominee.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

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