A Positive View of the Performance of Two Key General Assembly Members

Jason Miyares speaks on the floor of the General Assembly

Sen. Chap Petersen speaking on senate floor last year. Credit: Virginia Mercury

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia has some dreadful members of its General Assembly. We spend more time writing about them than we do on those who are exemplary.

I am going to focus on two that I truly admire, Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach.

It is hard to relate in words the true impact of Virginia’s elimination of the death penalty.  Jason Miyares is a long-time friend of mine, a former prosecutor, my delegate and a candidate for Attorney General. He recently spoke to this issue on the floor of the House of Delegates in opposition to the bill.

He never mentioned either party, any other politician or his own candidacy.

This is the work of one of 100 Delegates in the General Assembly. Even if you are against the death penalty, his experience, research and personal convictions on the subject will ameliorate some of the disdain that some of our politicians have earned.

Del. Miyares was respectful, more a supplicant than a firebrand. He made a plea to those who were about to vote for the bill to reconsider. He asked them to retain the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crimes.

His presentation with photographs on the human toll of certain monstrous crimes in Virginia is worth watching.

If you want to watch another honest man and gifted proponent of his positions watch anything from Democratic State Senator Chap Petersen. Watch Petersen speak on reopening Virginia schools.

Watching him speak is a master class in both preparation and personal commitment to issues that may or may not make him popular with his party or even his voters.

He is very direct. No jargon, no dog whistles. Utterly refreshing. Like Miyares, you don’t have to agree with him to respect him.

Both presentations reflect matters of conscience and commitment. Both Petersen and Miyares are attorneys and speak for a living. But you have to watch them to get the impact.

But we can all be proud that we have these two men in the General Assembly.