Ten candidates so far are running in the Nov. 5 election for offices in Montgomery County. Most of those are incumbents, but independents have until June 11 to file to get on the ballot.
Among those recently chosen to run are Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt and Sheriff Hank Partin, both Republicans. So far, neither has a challenger.
“It is not an easy job, but it is a satisfying one,” Pettitt, who has served in the office since 2005, wrote in an email. “I appreciate the community’s faith in my ability to continue to work for them.”
Pettitt said her top priority continues to be the vigorous and effective prosecution of violent criminals “who prey on our children and families.”
She also noted that "substance abuse is a major contributor to many crimes,” Pettitt wrote. “My approach to the meth and opioid epidemic is two-fold: stiff jail sentences for drug dealers and treatment such as drug court as an alternative."
Pettitt said she is working to implement a mental health docket, where people suffering from mental illness and facing minor charges could be diverted to treatment and probation, rather than incarceration.
Partin, who’s pursuing a second term, said one of his top priorities is a push to move the magistrate’s office closer to the jail on Main Street in downtown Christiansburg.
The county’s office of the magistrate, located on South Franklin Street is where warrants for arrests and searches are issued. It’s also where the initial decision is made to either set bail for an arrestee or require them to wait behind bars for their court date.
Partin said he’s worried about security at the current location. Someone could wait outside the building to ambush the arresting officer and help a prisoner escape.
“It’s a huge safety issue. It does not need to be sitting next to a restaurant where the public is coming and going,” Partin said. “The way it is now, the deputy or officer has to unload those people twice and load them twice in their vehicles.”
Other county seats up for election. Voters will choose Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer, as well as members of the Board of Supervisors in districts B, E, F and G.
Sitting District E Supervisor Darrell Sheppard and current interim Treasurer Helen St. Clair faced challengers in the May 4 Republican primary, but emerged victorious.
Sheppard, a retired Virginia Tech police officer will face Democrat Robbie Jones for the District E supervisor seat. Jones works as a custodian for Montgomery County Public Schools.
St. Clair, who was endorsed by former Democratic Treasurer Richard Shelton, is set to run against Democrat Tay Taylor in November. Taylor ran as a Republican in the 2015 Commissioner of the Revenue race.
Incumbent Commissioner of the Revenue Helen Royal, a Democrat, is running unopposed. Her first term began in 2012.
Two candidates, Republican Sherri Blevins and Democrat Brian Lawson are running for the District B supervisor seat currently occupied by Republican Chris Tuck. Tuck has said he will not seek re-election.
Lawson is the owner of the Thai This restaurant in Radford. Blevins operates the Christiansburg-based New River Valley Driving School Inc.
The Democratic Party had scheduled a May 11 caucus to decide on its candidates. The event was canceled because only one candidate stepped forward.
Democratic Supervisors Mary Biggs and April DeMotts, who respectively represent districts F and G, are running unopposed.
DeMotts, who’s completing her first term, is calling for a continued commitment to sustainability. She’s also pushing for keeping local teacher pay competitive.
“I want to continue to advocate for our teachers to be fairly compensated,” DeMotts said. “We want to attract top teachers to Montgomery County and we have to face the reality … if we want the best talent.”
Biggs, a retired teacher was first elected in 1996, is calling for infrastructure improvements to cope with growing enrollment at Virginia Tech.
“There will be a real need for us to strategically plan for what impact this growth is going to have on the county,” she said.