Roanoke County’s longtime prosecutor has retired and passed the baton to his chief assistant.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Leach had been mulling the idea of retirement and made his decision official effective Jan. 31.

The move caps a career that included 17 years as the county’s top prosecutor and 14 years as chief assistant prosecutor.

His chief assistant, Aaron Lavinder, now becomes acting commonwealth’s attorney for the remainder of the seat’s current term.

Lavinder, 44, grew up in Roanoke County and has served in the prosecutor’s office since 2004, becoming chief assistant prosecutor in 2012.

“I’m very excited to be taking on this new role,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure serving the citizens of Roanoke County for going on 15 years now, and I’m very happy to continue that service.”

Lavinder holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and earned his law degree from Campbell University in North Carolina. He is a graduate of Cave Spring High School.

The current term for the prosecutor’s seat expires at the end of the year, and the office was already set to be on the ballot in November.

Lavinder didn’t immediately indicate whether he planned to run. He said he expected to be prepared to announce a decision soon.

The deadline for independent candidates to file for a spot on the ballot is June 11. Those hoping to run as the Republican nominee, as Leach did during his tenure, must file by March 28 to get their name on the party’s primary ballot.

The Roanoke County Democratic Committee hasn’t yet announced what nomination process and associated deadlines it will use.

Speaking by phone Tuesday, Lavinder said he had been sad to see Leach depart, but wished him well in his retirement.

“I worked for Randy for a long time and learned from him. He was a mentor over these years,” Lavinder said.

He added the office has a strong staff and is well prepared to continue its work. At full capacity, the county office employs a team of 14, including attorneys, administrative personnel and victim/witness coordinators.

Leach, reached by phone Tuesday, thanked the voters for their support and said he was leaving the county in good hands.

“Aaron is ready,” he said. “He’s going to do a fantastic job.”

Leach added the office had a strong team, across all positions, that would continue to serve the community well.

“I would not have left if I wasn’t totally comfortable with the whole office,” he said.

Reflecting on his long career, Leach said he hadn’t been perfect, but he had always strived to make fair decisions and serve the best interests of the community.

The commonwealth’s attorney is one of five, independently elected, constitutional offices in the county. The office carries a four-year term and is paid an annual minimum of $135,449.

Other local offices that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot in Roanoke County include: three seats on the board of supervisors, two school board seats, sheriff, treasurer, and revenue commissioner. County voters also will elect their next state delegate and senator.

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