By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Several months after hinting at a run for the office, Norfolk Delegate Jerauld Jones, Jr., has formally announced his candidacy to run for Virginia Attorney General in 2021.
“Clearly progress has come, but now quick enough,” he said in a video accompanying the press release. “We’ve become more equitable but not enough.”
The announcement comes two months after Jones told local and national media outlets, he was exploring a run for the office.
Jones won his first election to the 89th House District in Norfolk in 2017.
In a July 13 press release, Jones said his motivation to run stems back five generations, to when his ancestors were freed from slavery.
Jones is 31-years-old and a native of Norfolk.
Shannon Taylor, current Commonwealth’s Attorney in Henrico County is the only other Democrat to announce her intentions to run.
Jones has begun receiving endorsements from area Democrats and other parts of the state, including State Senator Louise Lucas and U.S. Congresswoman Elaine Luria of District 2.
Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus are expected to back Jones in his bid to become the state’s first African American Attorney General.
The first and only female in that position was Mary Sue Terry in 1989.
Jones received his Undergraduate Degree From William & Mary. The 2015 UVA graduate is currently a partner at Bischoff Martingayle. Civil, commercial, employment, criminal, traffic, and municipal law
are his main interests.
“We need an attorney general who will fight for every single Virginian, who protects our consumers, stands up for all our rights, and who will lead us into the next decade by lifting everyone,” Jones said.
The attorney general’s office works to defend the state’s agencies and the governor’s office. The attorney general issues official opinions to the General Assembly and government officials and conducts or assists in criminal investigations on issues like tax fraud, identity
theft, and computer crimes.
The current Attorney General Mark Herring announced in 2018 he would be running for governor in 2021.
Herring, current Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, State Senators Jennifer McLellan, and Jennifer Carroll Foy have also announced their intentions to run to replace Gov. Ralph Northam.
Jones comes from a family with a respected political legacy. His father, Jerrauld C. Jones, held the 89th District seat from 1988 to 2002, and some of the General Assembly’s longest-serving legislators who are still in office have now served with both father and son.
The senior Jones is now a Norfolk Circuit Court judge and is a Gov. Ralph Northam appointee on the state’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. Jay Jones’ mother is a judge in Norfolk’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Hilary H. Jones Jr. is the younger Jones’ grandfather. He was the first Black person appointed to the Norfolk School Board and the Virginia Board of Education.
Delegate Jones has made his mark since being elected to the lower house.
He sponsored the “Ashanti Alert”, which created a “critically missing adult” alert for missing or endangered adults. It was named after 19-year-old Ashanti Billie, who disappeared from a Virginia Beach Navy base in 2017, and was later found murdered. A version of state law was later adopted at the federal level.
A 2019 speech about racism in response to Gov. Northam’s blackface scandal got him a standing
ovation. In the 12-minute speech on the House floor, Del Jones painted a picture of two modern, parallel states — a
white Virginia and a Black Virginia — where one knows privilege and one knows oppression.
His hometown is one of several Atlantic Coast cities, facing global warming flooding.
He has supported measures to combat climate change, sea-level rise, and flooding.
He challenged Dominion Energy’s base rates for customers and expansion or color power for residents in urban areas.
In 2019, he passed a bill allowing landlords to get a 10% credit on the annual fair market rent of a unit for accepting housing vouchers in areas where few residents were living below the poverty level.
Jones proposed during the 2020 Legislative session, in early June he would be submitting legislation to remove the Capitol Square statue of Democrat Harry Byrd Sr., a former governor and U.S. Senator who devised Virginia’s Massive Resistance to the Brown Decision.
“Across Virginia and around the country, Confederate statues are coming down as we tell everybody that we are no longer going to highlight that stain on our country’s history,” he said in a June 19 video commemorating Juneteenth, the formal end of slavery.