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Jason Miyares speaks on his role as Virginia’s new attorney general

Attorney-General Jason Miyares sits down with VPM News to discuss what led him to run for office. After winning the race with 50.4 percent of Virginia voters behind him, Miyares became the first Latino elected as attorney general. Miyares says he is ready to get to work, emphasizing that his duty is to all Virginians. He also says his office will welcome those he calls New Virginians, who immigrated to this county and achieved the American dream.

Video Transcript

Keyris Manzanares: 50.4 percent of Virginia voters elected Jason Miyares as Attorney General, making him the first Latino to hold that position. Miyares credits his mother, a Cuban immigrant, for his deep-rooted patriotism.  

Jason Miyares: I was raised have such gratitude that I could breathe air as a free American. And sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to realize what a unique country this is. And I call it the American miracle for a reason my mother fled in the fall of 1965. And almost 50 years today that she left. In the fall of 2015, she was able to go in the voting booth and vote for me to represent in the oldest democracy in the Western Hemisphere, the Virginia House of Delegates where I currently served before, I take on this role, and that is amazing.”  

Manzanares: Miyares’ triumph represents Virginia’s changing demographics and evolving identity. 

Miyares: We elected the most diverse ticket of Virginia history, obviously, my election and then my good friend Winsome Sears, who got elected as Lieutenant Governor, and she's actually a Jamaican immigrant. ... So, I think it reflects that Virginia is changing. ... I think it just affects the reality of how the Commonwealth has changed, and maybe what it was 40 or 50 years ago. 

Manzanares: Being attorney general means Miyares will be at the intersection of law, politics, and policy. 

Miyares: There's so much in state government that touches our office, because we're the lawyer for the Commonwealth, we're also considered the kind of the top prosecutor of the state as well. 

Manzanares: Miyares says his duty is to all Virginians.  

Miyares: My oath of allegiance is to follow the United States Constitution, the Virginia constitution uphold the walls of Virginia. That's an oath I take seriously. And, and I, the way I view my roles I represent all Virginians, you know, I don't necessarily care whether you have an R or D next your name. 

Manzanares: In a recent op-ed Miyares said that if the Commonwealth’s attorneys or local prosecutors won’t do their jobs, then he will.  

Miyares: The problem we've had from talking to both sheriffs and police chiefs in some of these localities is people aren't being prosecuted, is creating a huge, huge problem. And so, part of our legislative package we are going to propose would be a bill that said, Listen, if you have a local prosecutor that's refusing to prosecute certain crimes, the chief of police and the sheriff's office can come to the Attorney General's office and say, take a look at this. 

Manzanares: Miyares says he is ready to get to work once he’s sworn in.  

Miyares: I want to bring a culture of excellence, put together kind of what we want and our vision, put people in the office that deal with victims, that both bring extraordinary empathy and advocacy on their behalf. And then, candidly, in the position, I'm in that bully pulpit of being able to be an advocate with the general assembly as well, I think that's going to be critical. 

Manzanares: Looking to the future, Miyares said he wants Virginians to remember him as … 

Miyares: A straight shooter, somebody who calls balls and strikes someone that absolutely believes in the dignity of the individual, that I want to represent all Virginians, and also talk about and really use my office to talk about this American miracle for immigrants, so I called New Virginians as well have a voice in my office as well.” 

Miyares sworn in as the attorney general
Jason Miyares sworn in as Virginia's new attorney general. (Photo: Scott Elmquist/Style Weekly)