Here are the two Democrats vying to take on Rep. Rob Wittman in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

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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 the Republican incumbent Rob Wittman at the general election. Wittman has held the seat of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007.

The district includes parts from suburban Richmond to York and James City, Williamsburg and Poquoson counties.

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

The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press 2024 Primary Voter Guide

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

Jones said he is running because he sees “a lot of people in pain” and wants to help his community. He also fears for the country’s democracy.

“If we make the wrong decision together in November, the United States, even though we are the most powerful country in the world, will follow the path of the Roman Empire,” he said. “We have to save democracy.”

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

Jones mentioned women’s rights as another priority. He supports 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 autonomy over their own health care.”

Jones explained that his wife previously worked as a principal and that he is also committed to education. He wants to raise taxes on the country’s wealthiest citizens and use some of those revenues to raise teacher wages and fund schools.

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

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

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

Mehta served on Governor Ralph Northam’s commission to examine racial and economic inequality in Virginia law.

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

“Before she passed away, I started doing a lot more work in the areas of rare diseases, disability rights, accessibility and healthcare,” she said. “I worked at the federal level to secure bipartisan legislation for Rett syndrome and rare disease research funding – which led to increased advocacy.”

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

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

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

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

Mehta added that 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 have worked with (Republican) Governor Glenn Youngkin on rare diseases and I am currently part of his administration,” she said. “I don’t agree with him on everything and I’m certainly a proud Democrat, but I’m also a proud pragmatist and I want to be able to get things done.”

Katie King, [email protected]