HAMPTON, Va. — When one door closed, A.C. Cordoza opened another.
“I think this is the way I'm supposed to go, I think it’s the way I'm being led, the way God is leading me," Cordoza said.
Cordoza, an Air Force veteran, garnered less than 10% of the vote in an election to serve Hampton City Council in 2020. But in the most recent November elections, he defeated Democratic incumbent Martha Mugler to represent the House of Delegates District 91.
After withstanding a recount petition, Cordoza became the first African American to ever represent the district.
Here is a portion of a sit-down interview he did with 13News Now, ahead of the General Assembly convening next week.
At the time of the November elections, the Democratic Party controlled the state's top offices, the State Senate and House of Delegates. Trying to unseat a Democratic incumbent, what were your realistic expectations for the election?
I considered it a good chance [of winning]. I think the results spoke for themselves, we're not a state you would consider liberal, we're a state about issues. The issues weren't being answered by administration that's outgoing, and people weren't happy and decided to go the other way. That's the way Virginia is, if the people aren't happy we don't stick to either party. We go with who will fix the issues.
How important is African American representation in a district like the 91st, with the historic roots it has?
There are a lot of voices that have been craving representation. I'm an African American, a veteran, it's time those voices were properly represented. For instance, one of the things we're focusing on is make sure African American Veteran cemeteries--historic ones--are kept up. That they have the proper funds and proper maintenance.
Cordoza noted that he's already drafted legislation to address this issue in General Assembly.
Minority candidates, generally speaking, often align themselves with more progressive or Democratic beliefs. Being a conservative African American, does that come up?
It comes up, but when I speak to people about the issues and their values, they usually agree. Neither side owns progress. Each side has their own value system, and the people of this district agree more with the value system of the republican party. That's historically the issue, generally people have an idea of what a party is, and until they meet someone of that party and to hear what's actually going to be done, they hear that and say 'Wow, maybe I'll go a way I haven't historically done before.
What are some of your other key issues you hope to focus on?
I've drafted several bills. Some bills to amend some issues in the code, regarding alerts. We have some underfunded alerts [systems] which is a big problem for public safety. My focus in that field is to make sure every Virginian comes home every day.
When speaking to your constituents about what's most important to them, what have they told you?
Gas prices being very high, cost of living being very high. Energy bills being high, just common day-to-day bills, I want to do something about that, I have some bills planned on that as well to fix things like that.