Third candidate seeks sheriff’s position

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Sgt. Mark B. Turner, a current deputy with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, declared on Tuesday his intention to enter the race to become the next sheriff.

Mark Turner

Earlier this month, the current sheriff, J.B. “Jack” Stutts, announced he would retire at the end of this year, and therefore would not be running for reelection. Turner is the third person to announce his candidacy for the position. Last week, Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Josh Wyche and retired Virginia State Trooper John Brown each declared their intentions to enter the election.

In his candidacy announcement, Turner, who lives in Branchville, said he has spent his entire 19-year law enforcement career in his native county and the City of Franklin. Becoming a county sheriff, he said, has been a goal of his since high school.

His law enforcement career began in 2000, working as a deputy at the county’s jail and jail farm. In 2001, Turner graduated from the Crater Criminal Justice Academy and was assigned to the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office’s patrol division. In 2004, he was transferred to the Meherrin Drug Task Force — a coalition of regional law enforcement officers tasked with countering drug activity.

As a member of this task force, Turner was sworn in as a special police officer with the Virginia State Police, and was assigned by special appointment to the Drug Enforcement Administration as a task force officer, tasked with investigating and prosecuting federal drug crimes throughout the eastern district of Virginia.

In 2010, Turner was reassigned back to the Meherrin Drug Task Force, serving as a detective in drug investigations. From 2012 to the present, he has served as a patrol supervisor for the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office.

“From my earliest days, through my years in college, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the field of Criminal Justice, I have shared a truly remarkable relationship with Southampton County, the City of Franklin and The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office,” Turner said. “With that being said and profound sense of duty, I can think of no greater way of showing my sincere appreciation and affection toward all three, than that of leading the efforts of keeping and maintaining the safety of the residents of Southampton County and the City of Franklin.”

He then asked that the people of Franklin and Southampton County vote for him on Nov. 5, 2019, “not as a Democrat or a Republican, but as a fellow resident, and a fellow taxpayer, who wholeheartedly believes that there is a better way toward our community’s prosperity and safety.”

As for his plans for the Sheriff’s Office, if elected, Turner said he would pursue “a 21st century approach to law enforcement,” a more open channel of communication between residents and the sheriff, and a more effective and efficient use of the county’s tax dollars.

Turner is a 1996 graduate of Southampton High School. After graduating from Radford University in 3-1/2 years, he returned to his home county in 2000, where he married his high school sweetheart, Kelly Jean Wilder. They began their life together in a log cabin on a small plot of family farm land in Branchville. In addition to his law enforcement experience, Turner has also served in the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department for 18 years, achieving the position of president. He is also an active member of the Courtland Masonic Lodge and the Boykins Lions Club, and has served on the board of executives for the Robert A. Hill Fraternal Order of Police Lodge since 2001.