IW Supervisors request new date for sheriff’s election

Published 9:56 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

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Tuesday, July 24, is the new date Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors will request for a special election to determine who will succeed Mark Marshall as county sheriff.

Board members voted 3-2 on Thursday evening during a special meeting to petition the county’s circuit court for the new date after it was brought to their attention that holding the election in May, as they had previously voted, could conflict with state law. That had stemmed from Virginia Code 24.2-682, which states that a special election cannot be held 55 days prior to or on the same day as a primary election. A primary is anticipated to be held in May to determine who will run against Sen. Tim Kaine in the November mid-term election.

The dissenting votes on the new date came from Smithfield District supervisor Dick Grice and Hardy District supervisor Rudolph Jefferson, the same two who had voted against the originally requested date in May.

Jefferson said he was opposed to the July date on the grounds that it is a month when many people are out of town on vacation, and as such, may result in lower voter turnout. He also said that no constituents in his district had indicated to him that they would prefer a special election before November.

Windsor District supervisor Joel Acree said he agreed that holding the election in July may result in lower turnout, but also argued that those who do come out to vote would know the candidates and be less likely to vote uninformed or strictly along party lines.

Newport District supervisor William McCarty said he felt the board may be underestimating county residents by predicting low turnout.

“I would never insinuate that only a small percentage would show up because it’s not important to them,” he said. “I believe citizens come out for things that affect them and when they have the right information, with the right timeline, with time to plan and prepare.”

The ultimate date for the election may still change if the circuit court judge decides that the date the board has requested will not work, and sets a different date, County Attorney Mark Popovich warned. Assuming the July 24 date is approved, candidates would likely have until mid-May to file with the county registrar’s office and get on the ballot.

So far, two candidates have announced their intention to run for sheriff: Lt. James Pope and Maj. James Clarke, both current Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office deputies.