RICHMOND, Va. -- For nearly twenty years, Virginia's Office of the Attorney General was run by a Republican. That changed when in 2013 with the election of Mark Herring who is now seeking a historic third term in office.
This year, Herring is challenged by Republican Delegate, Jason Miyares, who has his sights set on becoming the Commonwealth's first Latino top prosecutor. The job of the attorney general is to act as the Commonwealth's chief law enforcement officer and defend state laws in line with the constitution. CBS 6 spoke with individuals who know the candidates well and believe both men are qualified and deserving.
Kelly Burk is the Mayor of Leesburg where Herring lives. The pair have worked together on many projects, dating back to Herring's time as a state senator and member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
"I've known Mark since the 1990s. And has always had such great respect for his advice and counsel," Burk said.
Burk calls Herring's record on issues like healthcare, education, gun violence and social issues like gay marriage and racial equality impressive.
"His demeanor and his strength really come through as the attorney general. He picks the issues that are important. He sticks with them, and he really makes the arguments that matter," Burk said.
As his profile as Attorney General has risen at home and nationally, Burk says Herring remains accessible and down to earth. From church to the grocery store to the local coffee shop, he's a fixture around town.
"People just love that, that they can come up to him and say hello, how are you doing and they'll sit down and talk to him about issues and he'll sit and listen," Burk said.
Supporters of Jason Miyares highlight how he has said he'll work with police and the parole board issue Miyares has made central to his campaign as reasons why he should be elected. Miyares previously worked for former Congressman Scott Rigell, running his first campaign for the United States of Representatives out of Virginia's second congressional district. Rigell won serving three terms and Miyares would become a trusted advisor and even closer friend.
"I had a reputation of working across the aisle. I don't see Democrats as the enemy, I see them as fellow Americans and we need to find common ground. I think that is hardwired into Jason Miyares mindset," Rigell said.
Before working for Rigell and becoming a delegate in the Virginia House, Miyares also worked for former Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach as a prosecutor. Harvey Bryant remembers Miyares as confident for someone his age at that time, articulate and sincere about his desire to do public service as a prosecutor. Bryant says Miyares was respected by defense attorneys and judges because of his honesty and integrity.
"When Jason gave his word to a defense attorney, they knew he was going to keep his word," Bryant said.
For all their differences, voters might be wondering if the men have anything in common. Other than their desire to serve, both men were raised by single mothers working hard since their youth to have a better life. Those who know them say how they grew up greatly influences their work as public servants.