I attended the Roanoke County commonwealth attorney candidates debate on Sept. 3 and thought your article evenly summarized the candidates responses. What it could not convey was the significantly different style and mindset of each, which would define their performance as commonwealth attorney. I listened as an emergency physician who sees firsthand the victims of violent crimes and drug use, a mother scared about the widespread exposure of our teens to drugs, and a person not affiliated with a political party who just wants problems addressed in a thoughtful, fair and capable way.

Independent Dirk Padgett was the most emphatic speaker, but his views on crime and punishment seemed so strongly held it was off-putting, and I worried about his ability to be fair.

Republican Brian Holohan was the most polished. He came across as competent and prepared for the job, though not innovative. I think the CA’s office would continue smoothly with business as usual under his leadership.

Democrat James Steele was the most thoughtful. He seemed to consider broadly the legal, ethical and practical points of each issue. Additionally, his platform of using evidence based tools to address the opiate crisis and use taxpayer money wisely is appealing and certainly needed. I felt his leadership style would be humble, but driven to get things done right.

When I think of who I would want leading the prosecution of a patient with drug addiction who assaulted me in the ER, or a friend's child who sold marijuana at school, I don’t just want punishment to be the goal. I want justice, and effective treatment to prevent it from happening again. I think James Steele is the best one for this job.

CAROLINE H. COX, MD

ROANOKE

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