ORANGE, Va. — Editor's Note: This is part of a series of candidate profiles leading up to Election Day. Check back daily for additional candidate profiles, including Vega's challenger, Abigail Spanberger.
The 7th Congressional District race in Virginia between Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger and GOP newcomer Yesli Vega is expected to be a close one, but many of their viewpoints could not be more polar opposite.
A chance to debate their political platforms was squashed after a scheduled debate was canceled.
Vega said she plans to use her experience as a Prince William County supervisor, a role she assumed in January 2020, to guide her priorities in Congress. She believes economic challenges is the number one issue facing Virginians, from rising gas prices and even more expensive groceries.
"We keep printing money that we don't have and sending money to all of these places when we have a great need here," she said when asked what she would do to help reduce inflation. "We owe to the American people to be good stewards of their tax dollars."
As a supervisor, Vega described herself as a "fiscal hawk" who opposes raising taxes.
Critics have since argued her stance against reckless spending and stance on student loan forgiveness after reporters revealed Vega filed for personal bankruptcy more than a decade ago, which included student loan debt.
"Look, I was 24," Vega added. "I was a small business owner with my husband and it happened during the last recession where businesses were forced out of the market because of the real estate market. That's what happened."
At the start of her campaign, following her primary win, Vega faced pushback over remarks she made that were caught on audio seemingly casting doubt on how often rape victims become pregnant. The topic of abortion is the third biggest issue for Democratic voters in Virginia, according to a recent Christopher Newport University poll. For Republicans though, the three main issues are the economy, immigration and crime.
Spanberger has capitalized on Vega's remarks by pushing it in political ads.
Vega emphasized how she supported overturning Roe v. Wade and giving the decision back to the states.
"I am pro life, but I do believe in the three exceptions: life of the mother and rape and incest," Vega said.
Vega is also a big advocate for law enforcement and supports fully funding police departments and addressing recruitment and retaining problems. Most recently, she held a "Back the Blue" rally in Orange, Virginia.
"How can you combat crime when you don't have enough officers?" Vega said. "We certainly have to ensure police departments are fully funded to attract and recruit talent and retain those who have been there for a long time."
Much of her campaign lately involves conversations surrounding parental rights, especially after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed changes to the education policy that would change how trans students are treated in schools.
Under the 2022 Model Policies released by the Virginia Department of Education, new rules include students only being allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their biological sex. Students can only participate on athletics teams that align with their sex assigned at birth. Teachers and staff can only refer to students by their names and pronouns associated with their records unless a parent says otherwise.
Youngkin has been vocal on how parents should be more informed on conversations surrounding their child's gender and sexual orientation. Vega agrees with the governor despite arguments that the policy is discriminatory.
"It protects children," she said. "It treats children with dignity and respect but it gives parents in the know as to what is happening with their children."
Vega has also focused on border issues during her campaign. While she did not provide specific solutions, she says the country needs to better enforce laws and reassess what do with the migrants already here.
"I'm fully supportive of securing the border and then talking about what we're going to do with the folks here," she said.
RELATED: Democrat Abigail Spanberger outspending Republican Yesli Vega 4.5 to 1 in Virginia election
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