For the first time in decades, Roanoke County will have a contested race for its chief prosecutor post.

Brian Holohan, who served as an assistant prosecutor with the county for 11 years, announced Tuesday that he’s running for office.

Holohan, who’s now in private practice, said he wanted to continue working to combat crime in the community and will bring to bear his experience handling cases that spanned from murder to drug dealing to assault and abuse.

Speaking before family and supporters, he vowed to serve the county with integrity and fairness.

“As commonwealth’s attorney, I will be tough when needed. I will be compassionate when deserved,” said Holohan, 45.

“I have dedicated most of my professional career to public service as a prosecutor because I believe it is a noble calling.”

Holohan, who’s seeking the GOP nomination, is the second contender to launch a bid for the county prosecutor’s seat. Longtime incumbent Randy Leach retired in January.

Attorney Dirk Padgett announced last week that he plans to run as an independent. Padgett, 57, is currently a defense attorney, but also has a background as a prosecutor in Bedford County, where he served for 13 years, and at the federal level with the U.S. Navy prosecutor’s office.

This will mark the first time in more than three decades that Roanoke County has had a contested race for the office of commonwealth’s attorney.

Election Day is Nov. 5.

In announcing his candidacy, Holohan said he would fight to protect families and was a strong backer of the region’s drug court program.

Supporters on hand for his announcement included Roanoke County Sheriff Eric Orange and the county’s chief assistant prosecutor, Aaron Lavinder, who has been serving as acting commonwealth’s attorney since Leach’s retirement.

Lavinder isn’t seeking election and gave his endorsement to Holohan. Orange, who is finishing his first term, is running for another term and will again file for the Republican nomination.

He announced his candidacy jointly alongside Holohan during Tuesday’s kickoff. Orange, 38, said he was proud of the work his team has done over the past four years to expand school security staffing, introduce new inmate work programs, and step up community engagement without swelling the office’s bottom line.

Plans to build on those priorities are already underway, he said. “I look forward to making the next term every bit as successful, if not more,” Orange said.

Padgett’s candidacy in the prosecutor’s race is supported by Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown. In detailing his platform, Padgett pledged in part to be a formidable but fair prosecutor and to put more focus on crimes against children, an issue he worked on in Bedford County, where Brown’s office runs a regional task force tracking down online predators.

Holohan also cited investigating crimes against children as a priority in his work. He was recognized by the Children’s Trust in 2014 for his work in the prosecutor’s office. In 2017, when he left the Roanoke County office, he went into private practice working as a guardian ad litem and advocating for children in the juvenile and domestic relations district court.

The Republicans and Democrats in Roanoke County have both called for a public primary, set for June 11, to determine their nominees for this year’s elections.

Other local, county offices that will be on the ballot this year include three seats on the board of supervisors, two school board seats, sheriff, treasurer and revenue commissioner.

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