A Life Devoted to Chesapeake
If Chesapeake were to have a human embodiment, one of the strongest contenders would be Delegate James A. “Jay” Leftwich, Jr., a man deeply rooted in this region who has dedicated his life to his hometown. As a young boy, Jay observed the steadfast commitment of community leaders and all that they gave to Chesapeake.
“When it comes to service, it was kind of a cumulative effect,” Jay explains. “My dad, for example, was on the original planning board for Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, and when I was a kid, I remember him coming home late. We’d ask him where he’d been, and he’d say something like, ‘Well, I was meeting in a little trailer with some folks trying to bring a hospital to Chesapeake.’ That was so exciting to me.
“I grew up in a neighborhood with leaders like Fred Creekmore, who helped establish the Chesapeake By-Pass,” Jay continues. “And, of course, there was Preston Grissom, who helped establish the city itself back in 1963. Being active in my community was ingrained in me as something you just do: you give back to the community, and you try to make it a better place than how you found it.”
“It’s pretty simple, really:
I want Chesapeake to be
the best place to work,
play, and raise a family.”
—Delegate Jay Leftwich
Many of Jay’s fondest Chesapeake memories revolve around Chesapeake public schools.
“Growing up in Chesapeake and going to K-12 here, I can still remember the names of all of my principals because they were all so dedicated,” Jay recalls. “The students respected and loved them. I think it’s important to have role models like that in school, whose purpose is to educate our kids and teach them how to be productive members of society. Along these same lines, I aim to keep political agendas out of the classroom. School should be a place of facts—where arguments are presented in a balanced way so that our kids can make up their own minds about what to believe. The classroom should be a place where students are taught how to think—not what to think.”
Jay’s commitment to Chesapeake led him back home after completing his law degree, where he joined Basnight, Kinser, Leftwich & Nuckolls, P.C., and where he remains today. Over the course of his legal career, Jay has sharpened the tools of objective evaluation and reasoning, which have played a significant role in shaping his legislative philosophy.
“We all find ourselves reacting with passion and emotion from time to time,” Jay says. “For example, I become very emotional when there’s an issue that concerns my children. But one thing about the legal profession is that we lawyers are taught, practiced, and trained to evaluate issues objectively, through analysis and a thorough understanding of all the facts and arguments, and then to determine the best course of action. There is always a set of facts to be evaluated, and this is where I concentrate my efforts.”
Jay’s legislative priorities are clear indicators of his dedication to Chesapeake. In a time when public safety became a topic of concern, he passed HB 2194, addressing threats of violence. He has also been an unwavering advocate for student safety, championing bills that focus on emergency training and collaborations with law enforcement. His leadership, however, is not limited to one issue. From capping insulin prices to introducing resources to combat human trafficking and ensure environmental safety, Jay’s legislative impact is vast and significant. His recent endeavors, such as securing funds for mental health facilities in Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and advancing a career and technical center for our public schools, are only the beginning of a much broader vision he has for Chesapeake.
“It’s pretty simple, really: I want Chesapeake to be the best place to work, play, and raise a family,” Jay says. “This is where I live; I grew up here. My siblings live here; my wife and children live here; all my inlaws live here. I want to make Chesapeake the kind of place where my children and grandchildren would want to raise their families. So, for every vote I make in the General Assembly, I ask myself, ‘How will this decision impact the quality of life for my constituents?’—the people of Chesapeake. I try to translate my vision for Chesapeake into direct action.”
Jay’s legislative prowess and devotion to Chesapeake emanate from the core values he holds dear: honesty, integrity, and a solid moral code. His personal faith provides an anchor, guiding him to act with a higher purpose, even in times of challenge. Jay candidly acknowledges the personal obstacles he has faced. But it’s his unwavering faith that provides clarity during these trials.
“We all face personal challenges in life—financial and job pressures, family pressures—and I’ve reached those crisis points in my life. And when I do, I remember to humble myself, get on my knees, and pray because I know I am not doing any of this alone; that everything I’ve achieved in life is a blessing from God. I always try to act with the best of intentions while fully realizing that God is in ultimate control, which allows me to let go of outcomes. All I need to know are the reasons I’m doing something and that those reasons are in line with my moral compass. I’ve learned to forget about my own expectations and trust a higher power.”
As the upcoming election approaches, Jay is led by his aspirations for the 90th District. He envisions a Chesapeake that continues to be a haven for families, with opportunities for growth, safety, and prosperity for all its citizens. And to those who are either unfamiliar with his work or new to the District, Jay offers this heartfelt message: “Every vote I make, every initiative I undertake is dedicated to ensuring that Chesapeake remains the vibrant, welcoming, and prosperous community we all love.”
Jay Leftwich for Delegate
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