Attorney candidates give closing arguments

Published 11:54 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

ISLE OF WIGHT — On Tuesday, voters in Isle of Wight County will go to the polls to elect a new Commonwealth’s Attorney. Two candidates, Jennifer Stanton and Wayne Farmer, are competing to serve out the remaining three years of W. Parker Councill’s term.

Both candidates were posed several questions about themselves, their backgrounds, and their opinions on issues relevant to the safety and welfare of Isle of Wight County.

Wayne Farmer

Biographical information

Full name: Lawson Wayne Farmer

Age: 38

Political Party: Running as an independent

Married? Yes, to Missy Jones Farmer

Children? Yes, two sons. Lawson (10) and Joshua (7).

Education: Smithfield High School, James Madison University (bachelor of science), William and Mary Law School (law degree).

Current Occupation: I am a partner in and president of the law firm of Saunders, Barlow, Riddick, Babineau, PC. We have offices in Smithfield, Franklin and Suffolk.

Previous work experience: For the past 12 years, I have practiced law in Isle of Wight County. I have focused my practice on the area of criminal defense.

Campaign Web Site?


Why do you want to be the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Isle of Wight County? All residents of our community want the same things: to live, to work and to raise our children in the safest possible environment with the best possible quality of life. The Commonwealth’s Attorney can help achieve those goals by working closely with law enforcement, the courts and the community at large. As a lifelong resident of Isle of Wight County, I care a great deal about this place I have always called home. My wife and I are raising our two sons, Lawson and Joshua, in this community. My parents, extended family and countless friends reside here. These deep roots strengthen my resolve to attend to the safety and security of this community. Serving as Commonwealth’s Attorney will truly provide me with an opportunity to make a difference in and give back to the community that has given my family and me so much.

What would you like to accomplish as Commonwealth’s Attorney? First, I want to maintain the relationship that I enjoy with local law enforcement so that we can work together as a cohesive unit to make sure that all crime in Isle of Wight is thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.

Second, I expect to establish an office that is both firm and fair in its prosecution of cases. I will never forget that the responsibility of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to see that justice is served.

Third, I want to assure that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office communicates effectively with the courts, attorneys, and law enforcement, as well as victims and witnesses, so that the administration of justice can be as timely and efficient as possible.

What is the most serious threat to public safety in Isle of Wight County? I believe that the sale and use of illegal drugs are the greatest threat to public safety.

Do you support the death penalty? I do support the death penalty as prescribed by the Code of Virginia.

What is your opinion of Virginia v. Moore? As you know, in Virginia vs. Moore the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a warrantless arrest for driving with a suspended license was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, even though it was not permitted under Virginia state law. This is obviously a favorable ruling for prosecutors as (it) widens the scope of permissible searches. As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I would still advise officers to follow the procedures and laws set out by the Code of Virginia as it relates to arrests. But, as it was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court, Virginia v. Moore is the law of the land and, as Commonwealth’s Attorney, I would most certainly rely on that case to obtain a conviction when appropriate. It is important for voters to remember that the Commonwealth’s Attorney does not make the law. What the Commonwealth’s Attorney must do is argue vigorously for the Commonwealth within the framework established by the legislature and the courts.

Where do you believe you are drawing your support? I am very fortunate to have a very broad base of support. I count among my supporters long-time residents as well as those who are new to the community. As I have always practiced in Isle of Wight County and have been in the courts on a weekly basis, I have significant support from those involved in law enforcement and the court processes.

How much money has your campaign raised to date? Approximately $17,000.

Is your campaign running a deficit? I have made personal loans to the campaign of approximately $9,000.

Can you tell our readers something interesting about yourself: As a father of two boys, I find it greatly rewarding to work with children and young people. For the past several years, I have been fortunate to serve as one of two senior youth directors at my church.

A little over a year ago, we took our youth group on a mission trip to Pass Christian, Mississippi — an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. They worked tirelessly in the heat to repair an elderly woman’s home. Practicing in the area of criminal law, I frequently have the opportunity to work with young people who have gone astray. Working with my youth group gives me the opportunity to see young people at their best. Their willingness to help others, sense of humor and vitality are an inspiration.

Jennifer Stanton

Biographical Information

Full name: Jennifer Elyce Tope Stanton

Age: 47

Political Party: Running as an independent

Married? Yes, to Capt. Michael B. Stanton, USN

Children? No

Education: I graduated in 1983 from Duke University, Durham, N.C., and in 1990 from New England School of Law, Boston.

Current Occupation: I am a criminal trial attorney.

Previous work experience: I have almost 20 years of experience handling criminal cases in state and federal courts, including all the courts in Isle of Wight. I am a veteran prosecutor (Chesapeake) and did a prosecution internship with the Norfolk Commonwealth’s office while in law school.

Campaign Web Site?


Why do you want to be the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Isle of Wight County? As a citizen of Isle of Wight County and a taxpayer, I think it’s imperative that the most qualified, most experienced person serve in this important position. The people of Isle of Wight deserve nothing less. Based on recent events, it’s abundantly clear that Isle of Wight County is not immune from the problems that plague communities across the United States: violent crime, drugs and gangs. On the first day in office, the new Commonwealth’s Attorney needs to send a strong and forceful message: Criminal behavior will not be tolerated in this county, and anyone who threatens the safety and welfare of our citizens will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will send that message, and I have the experience, the will and the toughness to make certain that message is heard loud and clear throughout Isle of Wight County.

What would you like to accomplish as Commonwealth’s Attorney? My No. 1 objective is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Isle of Wight County. I intend to accomplish this by vigorously prosecuting those who dare to threaten the law-abiding citizens of Isle of Wight County. I also intend to establish new and stronger lines of communication between the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and local law enforcement agencies. Communication and cooperation are critical to protecting the lives and property of our county’s residents. Our citizens will have someone in the office who will listen to them — listen to their concerns and be willing to answer their questions. Finally, I plan to launch an aggressive initiative to secure the necessary resources — money, manpower and technology — to wage an effective, hard-hitting fight against drug abuse and criminal activity. I also intend to aggressively pursue any and all forfeiture matters which will not only potentially help deter drug crimes in the county but which may provide a source of funding for important law enforcement needs that arise.

What is the most serious threat to public safety in Isle of Wight County? I consider any crime that occurs here a serious threat to Isle of Wight, but primarily drug offenses. While Isle of Wight’s property crime rate and violent crime rate are considered the lowest in the Hampton Roads region, Hampton Roads as a whole has the highest property and violent crime rates in the state. The more populated this county and our neighboring areas become, the greater that threat will be.

Do you support the death penalty? If elected, I will carefully review any case which might qualify for the death penalty under Va. Code section 18.2-31. If any such case arises, then I will further evaluate whether the evidence is strong enough to charge the crime as capital murder and seek the death penalty as punishment. If a death penalty case were to go to trial, then the citizens of Isle of Wight via jury will be asked to determine whether to convict and whether to impose the death penalty.

Do you believe the death penalty is a crime deterrent? It is a deterrent for the typical law-abiding citizen. However, most people who commit criminal offenses aren’t the “typical law-abiding citizen.”

What is your opinion of Virginia vS. Moore? My job, if elected, is to prosecute the crimes that occur in the county and to enforce the laws that are on the books, including and especially those that are codified by the state and then interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where do you believe you are drawing your support? I draw my support from the citizens who recognize that my qualifications and experience from nearly 20 years in criminal practice, including those as a veteran prosecutor, are exactly what Isle of Wight County needs to ensure that crimes don’t go unpunished and that no one, no matter who they are, is above the law.

How much money has your campaign raised to date? To date I have raised $24,799, of which $2,730 have been loans to the campaign.

Is your campaign running a deficit? No.

Tell our readers something interesting about yourself: I have sailed competitively for about 12 years now. I enjoy international travel, reading, sailing, hiking, rock climbing and all kinds of other outdoor activities, but I’m afraid of heights. For relaxation, I cook.