RICHMOND, Va. -- In the weeks leading to Election Day, candidates for Virginia's highest offices will answer questions about their qualifications on the CBS 6 News at 7.
Del. Jason Miyares is the Republican Party candidate running for Attorney General. Scroll down for a transcript of his interview with Bill Fitzgerald.
BILL FITZGERALD: So tell us what this election is about?
JASON MIYARES: Listen, I think this election is about which party which candidate do you trust to keep you safe? We're seeing skyrocketing crime rates in Virginia, our murder rate's the highest it's been, violent crime is up and the murder rates the highest it's been in over two decades. And so I was a prosecutor in Virginia Beach, serve now in the General Assembly. And what we've seen right now is people realize there's no check and balance in Richmond. You have one-party rule that's pushed a lot of policies that in my opinion, are criminal first victim last. So voters are upset. Virginians are upset and then you have this parole board that has broken the law in some cases to let out violent killers, murderers, rapists and cop killers out sometimes with decades on their sentence back on our streets, and sometimes they're committing more violent crime. There's been no accountability, the parole board, and that's part of why I'm running.
BILL FITZGERALD: And when you say breaking the law, you mean not notifying the victims, families and extended victims' families?
JASON MIYARES: Correct. We were just this morning with a family member of Bessie Roundtree, who is a grandmother in Suffolk, Virginia. She was the victim of a horrific home invasion, rape and murder by Patrick Schooley. Patrick Schooley was given multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole. And he's back on the streets right now, talking to his family members, they found out from the news. We were in Lynchburg as well and heard from the Commonwealth's Attorneys and some victims there. So that's not just opinion that's the law. The victims have to be notified, the prosecuting attorney has to be notified. And when previous governors like George Allen and Jim Gilmore were governor, they put victims on the parole board so they'd had the voice of the victim will not be silenced. When unfortunately right now you have policies that people on the parole board letting these people out. And you've had five former attorney generals, five former Attorney Generals that have said, and this Attorney General Mark Herring didn't do his job. He advises the parole board, he advises every single state agency. And when an attorney general finds that state agency, whether it's a parole board, or pick, pick whoever it is, but they find out they're not following the law. Your job is, if need be, to take them to court to force them to follow the law, if they fail to do so, we know from the inspector general's report, the parole board violated the law to let some of these individuals out, sometimes have tragic consequences.
BILL FITZGERALD: And you also mentioned on your website as part of your platform about the struggles of small businesses, CNBC has ranked Virginia as the number one state to do business in. But still, you say small businesses are still suffering.
JASON MIYARES: Well, we're 49th for startups, and they added a new totally new category if you compare to what it was before, North Carolina was the first. But yeah, I believe in a bottom-up, not a top-down economy. You talk to those what I call those quiet heroes, those small business owners, two-thirds of all new jobs in America are created by those small business owners, the first to get there in the morning, the last to leave at night. And sometimes they just see new taxes and new regulation coming out, really hurting their business. And that's one of the things I think as attorney general you can affect as well.
BILL FITZGERALD: We're still in a pandemic right now. A poll by VCU last month shows that strong majorities in Virginians support both the vaccine mandate and the mask mandates in schools. Where do you stand?
JASON MIYARES: Listen, I am very pro-vaccine, I'm vaccinated. My daughters are vaccinated, my wife's vaccinated. I think you cannot mask your way out of this pandemic. You have to get vaccinated, I encourage everybody to get vaccinated. I think that's critical. I also think you have to recognize and I'm a big believer in individual dignity and individual freedom. I think it's important to recognize that not everybody wants to reach that conclusion themselves and recognize they have to have their own conscience. And some people medically can't. The last numbers I saw was that 71% of all eligible Americans that can be vaccinated have had at least one shot, we should be celebrating that fact we should be encouraging vaccination. And I think that's the only way we're getting out of this pandemic.
BILL FITZGERALD: And as observers say, for example, that Virginia had a very smooth election last year. But on your platform, you say election integrity is an issue for you. What do you mean by that?
JASON MIYARES: Well, I just think photo ID is a lot of common sense. If I have to have a photo ID to check out a book in a library. Get a library card, if I have to have a photo ID to pick up my medication, to get on an airplane. It just makes a lot of common sense that photo ID to be able to vote, I think it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat. That's the standard we should have. That's the standard I'd want as attorney general. I think polls show the vast, vast majority of Americans and Virginians support that, that last poll I showed even the majority of Democrats supported photo ID, I think that's an important first step. And I think there's a difference between myself and my opponent. I support photo identification. My opponent opposes it.
Go in-depth with more Virginia candidates in our Virginia Voter Guide to the 2021 Election.
🗳️In-Depth Coverage Election 2021: Candidate Interviews
Virginia Lt. Governor's Race
Winsome Sears (R)
Virginia Attorney General Race
Mark Herring (D)
To learn more about key local elections, click here for the CBS 6 voter's guide.
Watch CBS 6 News at 7 p.m. with Bill Fitzgerald on TV, WTVR.com/LIVE or now streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV. Just search "WTVR Richmond" in your app store.
Key Dates and Deadlines in Virginia
Friday, Sept. 17: Early, In-Person Voting Begins
Thursday, Oct. 12: Voter Registration Deadline
Friday, Oct. 22: Request Absentee/Mail-In Ballot Deadline
Saturday, Oct. 30: Early, In-Person Voting Ends
Tuesday, Nov. 2 is Election Day: In-Person Voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2: Absentee/Mail-In Postmark by Date
Friday, Nov. 5: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date