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Here are the 2 Democrats vying to run against Rep. Rob Wittman in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

In World
June 09, 2024

Businessman Herb Jones and attorney Leslie Mehta are vying for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

The winner of the June 18 primary will face Republican incumbent Rob Wittman in the general election. Wittman has held the U.S. House of Representatives seat since 2007.

The district includes portions of suburban Richmond down through York and James City counties, Williamsburg and Poquoson.

Jones previously served three terms as treasurer of New Kent County. Mehta has not held elected office.

The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press 2024 primary election voter guide

Jones, 64, is a retired Army colonel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the chief executive officer of Pyramid Technologies, LLC.

Jones said he is running for office because he sees “a lot of people who are hurting” and wants to help his community. He also fears for the nation’s democracy.

“If we collectively make the wrong decision this November, the United States, although we are the most powerful country on Earth, we will go the way of the Roman Empire,” he said. “We have to save democracy.”

Jones believes no president should be above the law. If elected, he said he would use his role to help keep the president’s powers in check. He also supports term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Jones identified women’s rights as another priority. He backs the Equal Rights Amendment, which would change the U.S. Constitution to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, and would vote in favor of codifying abortion rights into federal law.

“Women should have the right to make their own decisions,” he said. “I will fight for women to have full and complete autonomy over their own health care.”

Explaining his wife formerly worked as a principal, Jones said he is also committed to education. He wants to increase taxes on the nation’s wealthiest citizens and use some of that revenue to raise teacher pay and fund schools.

“We are the most powerful country on earth but we have millionaires and billionaires who are not paying their fair share,” he said.

Jones and Mehta had raised $118,250 and $135,261 as of March 31, respectively, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. VPAP is a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks campaign donations.

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Mehta, 47, is the chief of staff and counsel for the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority. She formerly worked as the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.

Mehta was a member of Gov. Ralph Northam’s Commission to Examine Racial and Economic Inequity in Virginia Law.

She currently serves on the Virginia Rare Disease Council, which advises Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the General Assembly. Her 5-year old daughter, Brooke, died in 2021 from Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.

“Before she passed away, I started doing a lot more work in the rare disease, disability rights, accessibility and health care spaces,” she said. “I worked on securing bipartisan legislation for Rett syndrome and rare disease research funding on the federal level — that led me to more advocacy.”

Mehta felt running for office was a natural next step. If elected, she said securing more funding to improve health care affordability and accessibility would be a top priority.

She also supports codifying abortion rights into federal law and offering protections for other forms of reproductive health care.

“We know what happened recently in Alabama and the assault and attack on IVF,” she said. “We are at a point where there are attacks on things like birth control.”

Mehta said she would also work to address climate change by backing measures that support the environment, such as legislation to protect air quality or the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways, and invest in climate resilience strategies.

Mehta added she believes Congress needs “adults back in the room” who can be civil when they disagree. She said she would treat others with respect.

“I’ve worked with (Republican) Gov. Glenn Youngkin on rare diseases and I’m currently on his board right now,” she said. “I don’t agree with him on everything and I am certainly a proud Democrat, but I’m also a proud pragmatist and I want to be able to get things done.”

Katie King, katie.king@virginiamedia.com

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