I’ve been trying for a couple weeks to get information on the Sheriff’s race in Suffolk from both of the men who want the job.
It’s a good job. According to the Compensation Board for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the salary is more than $90,000 a year. That’s 30 percent more than the city’s median income.
Raleigh Isaacs, Sr. has it now. He’s held the position since 1993. According to a resume, he graduated from Christopher Newport University. Before becoming Sheriff in 1994, Isaacs was with the Suffolk Police Department from 1970 to 1993. He worked for the Norfolk Police Department from 1961 to 1970.
We’ll get back to the incumbent in a moment.
Challenger Jay Clason is a political newcomer who wants the job of securing the courts in Suffolk.
In a phone interview he told me he moved to Suffolk about eight years ago. Clason said he gained skills he thinks are valuable to serve as Sheriff while completing 27 years in the Army and Army Reserve. He pointed to establishing a police precinct in Bosnia, and creating police training programs in Hungary while in the military.
Unlike in many Hampton Roads cities, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office is not responsible for maintaining a jail.
Clason said while he believes he’s qualified to manage the security of the courthouse and documents, he thinks the office can do more to help the citizens of Suffolk.
According to Clason, there should be, “cooperative efforts between police and fire departments, and the Sheriff’s Office.” He said deputies, “could assist the police department with some of the fundamental law enforcement responsibilities.”
Now, I’ll explain why you won’t read any detailed responses from Sheriff Isaacs about the office.
At 9:30 on a Wednesday morning in September, I left a message for Isaacs. At 10 o’clock on the same day, he returned my call. I informed him I’d like to ask him about the race so I could post something online.
He said I’d need to tell him what I wanted to ask. So I told him I wanted to know about his vision for the future, and to get his perspective on some of the controversy during his tenure. When I mentioned allegations from some of his constituents that he used his position to help a relative in legal trouble, that was it. He firmly informed me he would not speak with me. He hung up. I called him back. Again and again. I had a colleague try. No luck.
I believed at the time – and still do – that a journalist should be able to ask an elected official about anything that may involve his actions, in the realm of his elected position, that may have been perceived as improper. I am not saying the Sheriff did anything wrong.
That said, while some in Suffolk have raised the question on the internet, his opponent told me it is not an issue for him.
In fact, Jay Clason told me he just wants the people of Suffolk to hear from both candidates about how they are going to serve them.
That’s pretty much the extent of this post. If Isaacs returns my call before the election, I’ll be sure to post an update.