Sheriff candidate forum Wednesday

Published 7:02 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

COURTLAND—The Tidewater News will host a forum for the three candidates running for Southampton County Sheriff at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the Southampton High School auditorium.

Voters should send questions to Tidewater News General Manager Tony Clark will moderate the forum.

Running for sheriff on Nov. 8 are Democrat Jack Stutts, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office, independent David Holland, a former assistant Fairfax County police commander, and independent Brian Marvel, a Franklin police officer, and.

Sheriff Vernie Francis is retiring after seven terms. The jobs pays $85,000 annually.

Stutts and Holland will attend. Marvel, however, said he has an out-of-town commitment he scheduled five to six months ago.

Grateful for the opportunity, Marvel told The Tidewater News he is seeking the office because he believes residents deserve the best protection.

“It’s time to make a difference to develop a high level of services, second to none, by providing special assistance for two of our most precious resources — our youth and senior citizens,” Marvel said. “Being a parent myself, I am reminded daily of the dangers facing our children, such as drugs, gangs and other criminal activities.

One of the largest problems he sees in the county is the community’s disconnect with law enforcement.

“The public is disgruntled because the perception is, that ‘nobody cares,’ Marvel said. “There have been several citizens that have expressed their concerns to me. The citizens feel that their local towns and communities are not important since they have not seen much of a presence from the Sheriff’s Office until this election started.”

As sheriff, he said he will manage a proactive and professional law enforcement organization dedicated to the community’s needs.

“This means more crime intervention and prevention, which will lead to less crime responses,” Marvel said.

He said he favors extra patrols in high-risk communities and business districts to combat home and business break-ins, neighborhood watch programs and town hall meetings to voice concerns.

The forums will feature opening and closing statements by each candidate and a Q&A period. Questions will not be given to the candidates in advance.