Florida’s 4th Congressional District

District covers Nassau, most of Duval and all of St. Johns counties

Map of Northeast Florida's congressional districts
Map of Northeast Florida's congressional districts (Florida Senate)

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Rutherford is facing a primary challenge from Erick Aguilar and Democratic challenger Donna Deegan and a write-in candidate in November.

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted.


Erick Aguilar

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 45

Candidate’s family: Sunddip, Javier, Esperanza, Aria, Sihana, and Nieam

Occupation: Retired Navy, Current Professor

Education: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Information Systems, Saint Leo University, 2001: Master of Arts in Business Administration (MBA), Saint Leo University, 2005; Doctor of Management (DM) in Organizational Leadership, University of Phoenix, 2009: Master of Arts (MA) in History, University of Nebraska, 2015: Graduate Certificate in Information Security Management, Saint Leo University, 2016

Political experience: None

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  • Economy, education, public safety/military

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I believe in serving others more than myself: SERVICE ABOVE SELF! There is too much work to be done in government for the people. There has been too much gridlock in laws and this has not met the needs of the people. We have turned over to a new decade, not enough has been accomplished to focus to improve the lives of our families. In the 2020s, we deserve a Congress that will work for the people, and that is what our team intends to do. There is too much squabbling in Congress and not a laser focus on families that the victims of this fight are our families. The agenda to work for the district is:

ο Education (in every area including teacher pay assistance and school maintenance) ο Small business support ο Retirement ο Affordable Healthcare ο Quality Housing ο Transportation ο Economy / Employment ο Healthy Foods and Medicine ο Security and Safety of our Children ο Enjoyable environment ο Safe neighborhoods ο Provide oversight of research labs to prevent future pandemics

Some items we will accomplish for Veterans and Active Duty:

1. Build a VA Hospital in Northeast FL 2. Develop a Veterans Community Center 3. Improve VA and Military Healthcare processes and Manpower for optimal service 4. Improve Military Housing 5. Increase Military Pay and Retirement 6. Sensible personnel rotation systems 7. State of the art military warfighting resources 8. Improve transitioning processes

In these areas, we need more support that will work for people to fully follow a path in the pursuit of happiness, as our founding fathers foresaw. Not enough has been accomplished to focus to improve the lives of our families, yet, a 24 TRILLION DOLLAR debt has been accumulated since the turn of the century with a pathway to increase further. Our team will present strong leadership to overcome these challenges to create processes and legislation that FULLY work for our families while reducing our national debt. We are laser focused to find a pathway to avoid being economically submissive to other foreign entities: independence, not dependence. The 2020s will be the “Age of Accountability” for elected leaders to actually help the people they represent with functional and practical measures.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I hope to be remembered that there was action taken to assist our families and good hearted people would decide to serve in future offices. I would also hope more Veterans would step up to run for office, as they have the heart of service above self, than deepening their pockets. By the time we are done in office, rough communities, and any community will receive the actual support they need in order to elevate their communities to a better tomorrow. Too long have rough communities been neglected and also used as political pawns for elections. We will be known for keeping the push to provide support and engagement to support communities, we lead from the front! Our team is focused to assist lower- and middle-income families and we hope to energize elected officials to follow suit, do the right thing! We hope to energize more of our younger generations to be engage and be productive members in society with aspirations to run for office to serve the communities with honor, courage, and commitment.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I will first add my bio to respond to this question: I was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in 1975. At the age of 7 (1982), my family moved to Brooklyn, NY in the East New York neighborhood area. It was a challenging time for me and my family growing up in the "rough" area of Brooklyn during the unwanted epidemic of drugs and crime, education and economic crisis, and lack of public trust. Yet, I overcame the struggles and took on those lessons to pursue a better life. Eventually, I was accepted to John Jay High School with the intention to be a lawyer in the future. Unfortunately, there were some obstacles that the pressures of the social environment overcame my goal that I barely graduated from John Jay High School. During High School, I was working part-time at a delivery service company delivering letters and packages after school from Midtown to Downtown Manhattan.

After High School, I was training to be an automotive technician, and graduated from Apex Technical School in 1995. I interviewed for many jobs in the automotive field with no luck. During my search, I worked part-time at a fast food pasta restaurant at the Manhattan Mall as a food delivery person. As I continued my job search while working, I found out that the U.S. Navy was recruiting for aviation maintenance. My family was not known for any military service, but ever since I could speak English, able to read and understand the culture of the United States, I did not shun the idea of joining the U.S. military. I did talk about the U.S. military service openly during my High School years with my friends to join the U.S. Army. I am a firm believer that God has a plan for everyone with an important direction. In my life, the signs led to joining the U.S military, and I chose to join the U.S. Navy with no nautical experience.

On April 8, 1996, my journey in joining the MOST powerful naval force ever created had started. This journey changed my life DRAMATICALLY! I served my country proudly all over the world on 5 different continents. I never declined an invitation to defend my country around the world. I joined challenging deployments in the Persian Gulf during Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, encountering and deterring Somali Pirates, protecting the sea lanes in the 5th fleet area, forward deployed in the Asia sea lanes, and other missions that are more confidential. In 2016, I, Chief Petty Officer (AW/SW) Erick Javier Aguilar retired after 20 years of naval service serving PROUDLY with Honor, Courage, and Commitment. While serving in the U.S. Navy, I led Sailors in aviation management, technology, logistics, and fiscal administration operations. I earned numerous military awards and decorations for valiant and dedicated service. I am ever grateful for the opportunity to serve for the people of the United States to defend the valuable freedoms this great country continues to provide to its people.

I have been teaching in higher learning for 14 years at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. I teach several concentration areas in business, technology, and history, conducted professional development training, and business enhancement workshops. Provided subject matter expert knowledge to develop leadership, business, project management, cybersecurity, computer technology, U.S. and World history, and marketing curriculum. Served as a Private Consultant to provide mentorship and coaching to educational and business leaders in organizational culture, operational management, finance, investments, technology, and productivity. Additionally, I am a stock trader and provide guidance on emerging markets.

With so many accomplishments in my life that in reality, it was not statistically possible for me to accomplish a lot while growing up in a rough community that drowns the thought of prosperity. What I have learned is that exposure of other productive measures is key to knowing what one can choose to accomplish. Was it racial injustice where I grew up in Brooklyn, NY or a lower income area that there are some people keeping each other down? There are multiple items that impact an environment to cause poor behaviors and what our team will focus is on what are the root problems within communities. We will identify, evaluate, provide solutions, fund for implementation, and monitor its success. In my opinion, the race war was over long ago, but there are those that want to keep it alive for their own profit, yet hurt others without remorse. I have seen this repeatedly living in Brooklyn, NY and around Jacksonville since 2000. Fixing our rough communities is one of the reasons I decided to run for this office, as there is no conviction and effectiveness by elected leaders to actually fix these problems. There is too much talk, with little action, and our law enforcement and communities are the victims from poor elected leadership. We will be engaged with communities and their leaders to further understand what they will need support with and act to grow our futures together! My promise to the 4th district is that we will ALWAYS get to the root of the problem, implement effective solutions, and be fully engaged in our communities. We will have a prosperous 2020s!

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

We started our campaign with a virtual strategy and speaking with people at various places. Due to our team having military and business backgrounds, our team has adapted and overcame challenges for our campaign to present the vision we are trying to establish for the future of our families. The Florida's 4th Congressional district is about 565,000 registered voters, which requires strategic engagement and observations on what people would like to see their Congress do for their families. Since the voting body is large, we used multiple voter outreach methods to connect with voters. In the political landscape, there will always be "curveballs" thrown that one has to be flexible to overcome challenges. Where we go, we always practice safety first! We are passionate to serve our communities!

Campaign website: erickforcongress.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

John Rutherford

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 67

Candidate’s family: Wife Pat, high school sweethearts married now 47 years with two children and six grandchildren.

Occupation: Congressman

Education: FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY BS Criminology; Florida Junior College AA; Graduate FBI National academy 171st Session; Graduate FBI Executive Institute

Political experience: Twelve years Sheriff of Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, in 2011 JSO achieved the lowest Murder and Violent Crime numbers in 40 years. Served as legislative chairman for the Florida Sheriff’s Association for 9 years. Now serving my second term in the United States House of Representatives.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  • Healthcare/Insurance
  • Restore the Booming Economy in times of COVID-19
  • National Security includes military; China; The southern boarder

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have the experience and am currently serving on the very important Appropriations Committee. I have a life time of serving the constituents of NEFL. Over forty years of Effective and Conservative leadership serving in NEFL. Proven ability to achieve results, even in Washington DC. Worked with state and local leadership to bring Jobs and revenue to NEFL. Passed 8 Bills from the House and 3 Signed into law by President Trump.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That my constituents were well served by my office and that our Community, our State and our Country are a safer, more prosperous and more healthy place to live, work and raise a family...as I have done here on the First Coast. If you know me well, you know for these last 16 years, it’s been my honor to serve our community and my Lord in two elected Offices as Sheriff and now Congressman. I would like people to remember it was my greatest honor to protect the Hometown and NOW to protect the Homeland.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I think we need to renew our commitments to the founding principles of this Country. Principles like justice, freedom and equality for all. I don’t accept the false narrative that America is a Racist country or that our Institutions practice Institutional Racism or that American is an evil country. Go research these self proclaimed Marxist groups like BLM(the organization)or the M4BL.org and see who they are attempting to fundamentally change America. Read their own words on their websites. They are carrying out Marxist ideology and “Critical Theory” with all they say and do. But does social and racial injustices occur, yes they do, and I will continue to do all I can to stop it and deter it with the greatest of efforts. We must never turn a blind eye or deaf ear to calls for justice. I’ve spent a life time fighting for Justice. But we must also never allow Critical Theory and other divisive measures to be used to divide this great nation and turn every group upon the other. We are not a perfect Union, but I do believe in the goodness, kindness and generosity of the American Spirit and that’s why I will work, in every way possible, to make this a more...perfect Union.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking? 

Congress has been challenged to mitigate the health and economic damages to our families and businesses brought about by this horrible COVID-19 Pandemic. A once BOOMING ECONOMY was simply and willfully SHUTDOWN! We must restart our economy and open our schools in a safe and healthy way.We must continue to support Operation Warp Speed to develop more and faster testing and a new and effective vaccine, all in historically record time. We must continue to innovate and adapt our daily lives to this threat we are all facing. The one outcome of this Pandemic is that the Chinese Communist Party has been exposed for the threat they truly pose to our National and Global security. Those of us in Congress will continue to serve our constituents back home in new and different ways because of COVID-19. I miss those face to face meeting we have had with hundreds of constituents and the “work alongs” with scores of businesses. And although we now have those meeting through webEx, it’s really not the same. But we continue to faithfully serve the people and businesses of NEFL.

Campaign website: Votejohnrutherfordforcongress.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Donna Deegan

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 59

Candidate’s family: Tim Deegan, husband. Children Danielle and Drew

Occupation: Candidate

Education: B.S. Communications Florida State University

Political experience:

Covered politics as a journalist for 30 years, holding the powerful accountable, campaigned aggressively in 2018 helping Democrats statewide win their districts

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. Healthcare - As a three time cancer survivor who has been working philanthropically with underserved cancer patients for almost 20 years, I see healthcare as our number one priority. Too many people are dying or going bankrupt in our current system. We are now in the middle of a pandemic and millions have lost their jobs and with it their health insurance. We must provide affordable quality healthcare to every American.
  2. The economy - Even before this pandemic, way too many people in our district and our country were struggling in an economy that works best for the top 1 percent. Now with 40 percent of people who make less than 40k per year unemployed, it’s more critical than ever to create an economic policy that works for the middle class.
  3. Common Sense Gun Legislation - I believe in the second Amendment. I also believe people deserve to feel safe when they go to work or school or church. The large majority of Americans of all parties (93 percent in a Fox News poll) believe we need universal background checks. We only need the political will to make that happen.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

First of all, I'll show up. My opponent has failed to hold one town hall since he took office two terms ago. I've been having them every week and will always be accessible to my constituents. As a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, and a news anchor here for almost 25 years, I've been listening to people on the First Coast, and speaking truth to power for a long time. I believe that work and my many years of philanthropy have created a bond and a trust with this community that will enable me to bring people together across a bitterly divided electorate. We must begin to see each and speak to each other again if we are to ever accomplish any long lasting good for our district and our country. My message has always been one of love and unity over fear and division. Cancer has taught me many lessons that I believe will translate to good governance. That fear only divides and never brings healing. That we are all here for just a blink and we need to do as much good as we can in the time we are allotted. That love, kindness, compassion and empathy are not weakness, but true strength.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I would hope to be remembered first as someone who always put people over politics. I will never be beholden to special interests but only to the people I serve.

I would hope to be remembered for finally making sure that every American can afford quality healthcare coverage. That goes beyond just creating the mechanism by which that will happen, but by addressing the economic inequities that keep so many Americans from realizing the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The health of our country involves addressing gun violence in a meaningful way and in acknowledging that the climate crisis will cost our region dramatically as rising seas impact our water quality and so much more. In my first term I want to accomplish meaningful legislation on all of these issues.

On a broader note, I'd like to leave a legacy of unity and inclusion.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

Specifically, we need to address the underlying causes of systemic racism in this country. We must invest in our black and brown communities, creating an infrastructure that provides the same amenities (sidewalks, lighting etc) that we see in largely white communities. We need to address the poverty that holds those communities back. That means an investment in education, and community health. It means investing in affordable housing. Our federal budget for these things has been slashed over the past four years. It means ending practices like red-lining that hold those communities back. It means reforming, retraining and rebuilding our policing practices and a greater investment in mental health and public safety. This isn't an easy quick fix. It will take commitment to addressing all of the underpinnings of racism.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

When I launched my campaign last November, I envisioned being everywhere. I love to talk with people, listen to their ideas and struggles face to face. In our first few months we held town hall meetings in every corner of the district and I'd hoped to continue that along with many other community events. Obviously Covid has made much of that in person communication impossible. I've continued to do town halls weekly on the Donna Deegan For Congress Facebook page and we are reaching out in other ways, but it's a more challenging way to campaign for sure.

Campaign website: donnadeeganforcongress.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Gary Koniz is qualified as a write-in candidate in this race