Buena Vista city hall

The Buena Vista city hall.

Two candidates qualified to run for Buena Vista commonwealth’s attorney after Friday’s filing deadline.

Daniel Mowry is an attorney for the Nelson, McPherson, Summers & Santos law firm in Staunton. Joshua Elrod previously worked as Lexington’s city attorney before he was appointed to serve as interim commonwealth’s attorney in Buena Vista. He started the position July 1.

Buena Vista’s former commonwealth’s attorney, Christopher Russell, was appointed a general district judge in the 25th Judicial District. Buena Vista did not have an assistant or deputy chief commonwealth’s attorney to take over the position.

Circuit Judge Anita Filson, who has since retired, appointed Elrod to the position in May.

Elrod previously ran for commonwealth’s attorney in Lexington and Rockbridge County in 2011 and 2015.

“This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” he said.

Before becoming the city’s interim commonwealth’s attorney, Elrod split his time between serving as Lexington’s city attorney and representing clients in criminal law at his own private practice. He said his substantive knowledge of criminal code in Virginia has proven to be valuable for the job.

If he was elected to continue in the position, Elrod said he wanted to make sure underreported crimes like elder abuse, sex crimes and child abuse were adequately addressed.

He said he also wants to work on innovations in how drug abuse is handled and wants to form strong partnerships with law enforcement, social services and other community groups that can help make a communitywide effort.

Elrod moved from Lexington to Buena Vista in June with his wife, two sons and two dogs. Candidates for commonwealth’s attorney are required to live in the city.

“It’s been a significant commitment and I wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t committed to Buena Vista and this position,” he said. “I’m very excited about being a part of the community.”

Mowry moved to Buena Vista in April in order to qualify as a candidate. Mowry focuses on criminal defense and has also worked in custody and other domestic relations law. He serves as counsel for the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services.

He said it was time for the community to take a strong stance against child abuse and maltreatment. Mowry said he has taken numerous specialized courses and training on how to work with young people in traumatic situations.

Mowry grew up in Augusta County. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father was a juvenile probation officer, which taught him the value of being a public servant. He said he wants to help people struggling with addictions by offering them services instead of continually sending them to jail.

“The commonwealth’s attorney is someone who can truly make a difference in these people’s lives,” Mowry said. “And that’s something I see that office as really needing.”

Mowry said he’s looking forward to spending even more time in the city — and outside of it, where he bear hunts with his hounds.

Both Mowry and Elrod will appear as independents on the November ballot.

For more information on the election and how to register, visit elections.virginia.gov. The deadline to register is Oct. 15.

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Alison Graham covers Botetourt and Rockbridge counties and Lexington. She’s originally from Indianapolis and a graduate of Indiana University.

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