Thank you for reaching out to us here.
The featured image in the “Latest News” widget will always be down-scaled to 550px wide and 400px height. This functionality is defined at this line in the functions.php file:
add_image_size('sydney-medium-thumb', 550, 400, true);
Meaning that your image must have 500px by 400px ratio to prevent left and right side of the image to be cut off.
> 1. How do I get the row to span the width of the page?
Edit row > Row Styles > Theme > Row Layout > select “Full Width Stretch”. Please see this GIF for the sake of visual https://cloudup.com/c2YPRKuKGgx.
I hope this reply helps.