Candidates for Southampton County/City of Franklin Sheriff

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Four men are seeking the office of sheriff in Southampton County and the City of Franklin. The Tidewater News asked them the following questions: 1. Their name and community of residence. 2. What qualities and experience do you possess that make you a good candidate for sheriff? 3. What are the most pressing issues facing the Sheriff’s Department, and what would you propose to specifically address those issues? 4. What do you see as the greatest strengths of the current department, and what would you specifically propose to expand upon those strengths?

1. John A. Brown Jr. Resident of Newsoms area in Southampton County for 26 years.

John A. Brown Jr.

2. My qualities include, but are not limited to, 33 years of law enforcement experience in a variety of different assignments. Started my law enforcement career in 1986. I started out in corrections from there I became a police officer, where I was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

I then had an opportunity to become a deputy sheriff in which I took that opportunity to grow my passion as a law enforcement officer. After a couple years of learning what I truly wanted to do as a career, I decided to apply to become a state trooper. I was accepted by the Virginia State Police and was one of 40 out of 3,000 applicants to be hired for the position. I find this as a huge success in itself. This shows some of the qualities that I possess early in my career to go through such a rigorous background check. I was promoted twice while with the Virginia State Police. After my 28-year career with the Virginia State Police, I took another opportunity and became the Special Investigations supervisor at the Federal Correctional Facility, where I continue to lead the way as I always have done. Being a true leader is another quality that I possess. My qualities are that I am honest, compassionate and a person of principle. I tell it like it is and I am very straight forward. Another quality of mine is I do not play politics. I cannot be bought, nor will I become a puppet for a certain group of people due to their status. I will speak and stand up for all, but especially the weak and scared. My qualities show that I am a worker, the “get it done” type of person. I do not preach about what I am going to do, I will show you what I can get done with my leadership qualities and work ethic.

3. The most pressing issue is manpower, morael of employees in my opinion. We must first change the way we are working the schedule for manpower. Once this is done it will show how the morale of the department will change for the better.

We must find better ways to hire good people to do the jobs that come available and use the resources that we have on hand to manage events that occur at a moment’s notice.

4. One of the greatest strengths the department has is its current workforce. The current workforce has a strong will to do the job. Unfortunately, they have not been given the opportunity to show what their true strength can accomplish. I propose to give them that opportunity so they can expand their roles as leaders within the department.

Another strength the current department does is it shows its compassion for looking after the citizens of this county. It may take a while to get there, but when they do the mission is handled. For an example, whether it’s an arrest that needs to be made or just a phone call to keep someone’s peace of mind good.

I hope this has helped you in your decision for whom to vote for as your next sheriff in such a very important election.


1. Thomas O. Potter Jr., I currently reside in the Sunbeam area of Southampton County.

Thomas O. Potter Jr.

2. Having worked in local law enforcement for over 20 years coupled with my experiences in the private sector set me apart from the other candidates. During my career I have worked with outstanding men and women in local, state, federal and international law enforcement. I believe my contributions to the law enforcement community, skills, job knowledge and education will make me an outstanding sheriff for Southampton County and the City of Franklin. In my current position as the chief investigator for the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s office I have managed complex investigations and have worked closely with the Commonwealth’s Attorney office. I have worked to develop policies that lead to the Sheriff’s Office receiving accreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement and Professional Standards Council. Each year I have worked alongside other members of the Sheriff’s Office command staff to develop an operating budget for the office. Having spent time in the private sector, I have worked and interacted with government officials from FEMA, the U.S. Military and the U.S. State Department. Your next Sheriff will also hold the role as the designated emergency management coordinator for Southampton County. I am the only candidate for Sheriff that has developed emergency response plans as well as worked within an emergency operations center to carry out those plans.

3. Southampton County and the City of Franklin are facing some challenging economic times ahead. The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office is not immune from these challenges. We are going to be tasked to do more with less. The next sheriff of Southampton County is going to have to be in a position to engage the Board of Supervisors, as well as state leaders, to assure adequate funding in allocated to protecting our county. The sheriff and his command staff must be forward thinking and come up with innovative ways to maximize the resources we possess. The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office must work to embrace 21st-century policing strategies in order to provide the most effective and efficient services to those we have the honor of serving. We will accomplish this by challenging ourselves to become an accredited law enforcement agency all the while building a culture of accountability and transparency.

4. As with any law enforcement agency, the greatest strength lies within its people. The Sheriff’s Office is currently comprised of dedicated men and women. They give of themselves every day to make our communities a better place for each of us to live, work and raise our families. While we have a dedicated staff, leadership must work hard to fill any vacancies that exist. A successful law enforcement leader makes recruitment and retention a top priority. We must continue to challenge our staff to reach outside of their comfort zone and to take ownership in the communities of Franklin and Southampton County. I want our deputies to feel free to recognize problems and concerns within our communities and then be empowered to come up with proactive solutions to these issues. As your next sheriff, I am committed to investing in the Sheriffs Office’s greatest asset: its people. We will work from day one to develop a culture of trust within the Sheriff’s Office and foster an understanding that when our people succeed, inevitably the entire agency succeeds. We will, as part of the accreditation process, put into place a fair and equitable hiring and promotional process as well as a progressive discipline system. On day one, I will afford the Southampton County sheriff’s deputies the same protections that are afforded all law enforcement officers in Virginia under the Police Officers’ Bill Of Rights as outline in the Code of Virginia.


1. Mark Brandon Turner, lifelong resident of Branchville

Mark Brandon Turner

2. I received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Radford University in preparation for a career in law enforcement. For the last 20 years I have been employed at Southampton County Sheriff’s Office and had the benefit of working nearly every position within that agency. From the jail farm, the jail, patrol, dive team, Virginia State Police Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration Federal Task Force, Investigations and Supervision in patrol. I have been fortunate to learn all aspects of the Sheriff’s Office and its functions. Because of these assignments, I have worked with and established a network of law enforcement professionals from all local, state and federal agencies in the area. I have learned what works and what doesn’t within these agencies. I am supported by a majority of my Sheriff’s Office coworkers in this campaign as well as a large portion of the retirees.

One of my best qualities is that I want to listen and hear the concerns of the people. I want to know what the issues and problems that individuals and communities feel are important and address them all accordingly.

3. The most challenging and pressing issues that I will face as sheriff are recruitment, training and retention of highly qualified individuals. The Sheriff’s Office is experiencing the same problems as many other law enforcement departments in the country today, and that is a shortage of personnel. Without a fully staffed Sheriff’s Office many of our most-needed programs will be not be achievable. As sheriff, I will personally be involved in all aspects of this process from the recruitment of new personnel to the mentoring of current employees.

Training is another pressing issue that needs immediate attention at the Sheriff’s Office. I will call on outside agencies and individuals that I have developed a relationship with over the years to provide no cost or affordable training for our personnel. I will emphasize training at the Sheriff’s Office because I feel it is a key element in order to have a productive department. I would also like to organize a citizens academy to have the public interact more with our department.

As sheriff, I would have educational programs for the schools like the Explorers Program, civic organizations, and others who might want a better understanding of the Sheriff’s Office and work with us to make our community a safer place to live.

One of my main focuses will be improved inter-agency cooperation. The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office cannot continue to be an island. As sheriff, I will work closely with the Franklin Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and all paid and volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. In addition, our neighboring Sheriff’s Offices and police departments, and the numerous agencies of the federal government will be drawn on for partnership. There are vast resources available to supplement an already strained budget. The ultimate goal is public safety. Cooperation among all agencies is the objective.

4. The employees are the backbone and strength of the department. They are all members of the community and dedicated to Southampton County and the City of Franklin. Many were born and raised here. I can tell you from first-hand experience that no deputy chose a law enforcement career for the money. All of them realize that there are bigger paychecks and more opportunities in other departments. Our deputies choose the Southampton Sheriff’s Office because of their commitment to their community.

As sheriff I will be engaged with all personnel within the office regardless of their position to determine their potential and maximize their effectiveness. I will base awards and promotions on achievements and abilities, not nepotism. As sheriff, you must stay engaged with all of your people to gain their trust, confidence, respect and, most of all, maintain their morale. As sheriff I will lead by example and not be a “do as I say, not as I do” sheriff, and most importantly keep an open mind.


1. Josh Alexander Wyche Sr. of Courtland

Josh Alexander
Wyche Sr.

2. First and foremost, I have been a deputy sheriff with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office for over 34 years rising through the ranks to my current position of captain. That experience has given me a thorough knowledge of the different aspects of the agency. I am sure this will allow for a smooth transition and equip me to meet future challenges head on. In addition to my agency experience, I am well acquainted with and active in the communities we serve.

I am a lifelong resident of Southampton County and I was educated locally. I am a graduate of Paul D. Camp Community College, holding an A.A.S. degree in criminal justice, and I graduated from the 237th Session of the FBI National Academy. I served in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of sergeant. I feel that the training and discipline instilled in me during my years in the service will benefit me as sheriff.

I am qualified, fully committed and dedicated to serving all the citizens of Southampton County and the City of Franklin.

3. At the moment the most pressing issue facing the Sheriffs Office is that the dedicated men and women serving in this agency are concerned about their futures and the possible challenges and changes ahead.

Change is necessary in any successful organization. Early on, I will meet with staff and announce the direction I intend the agency to proceed, my expectations, concerns and overall goals for the office. I will promote a more visible Sheriff’s Office and increase positive contact with all citizens, especially the youth of Southampton County and the City of Franklin. I am confident that once the Sheriff’s Office staff feel secure in their positions here the insecurities that come with change will fade. The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office has always been a family and I will personally promote unity.

4. The greatest strengths of the current office are the personnel. We have a great, dedicated group of men and women who work tirelessly to ensure public safety and the safety of each other. I believe that the training and experience of the current staff should allow me to place the right leadership in place to achieve my goals. The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office has steadily progressed under former sheriff V.W. Francis Jr. and current sheriff, J.B. Stutts. As sheriff, I will see that the agency continues to move forward with technology, specialized training and leadership development.

If elected I intend to be accessible, visible, accountable, and I will maintain a steadfast commitment to serving the County of Southampton and the City of Franklin.