Photo Courtesy of Clark Ruhland
Article Written by Brieanah Gouveia
Since the reversal of Salem Sheriff Eric Atkins’s decision to run for re-election was announced last week, three individuals have stepped forward seeking to replace him. Whoever is elected will be filling big shoes, as Atkins is a 33-year-veteran of the Salem Sheriff’s Office, beginning his role as Sheriff in 2007, according to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ website. The three individuals who have so far confirmed their candidacies are Jacob Carroll, Flint Wright, and April Staton.
Carroll, 39, has served as lieutenant with the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office for the past 12 years. According to the Roanoke Times, having filed his candidacy months ago with the intent to run against Atkin’s, Carroll stated that “he hopes to use his experience from Roanoke County to bring new programs and outreach initiatives to the Salem office.”
Wright, 58, is a retired law enforcement agent of the Salem Police Department and veteran of the US Marines, according to the Roanoke Times. After 20 years of service with Salem PD, he “worked as a part-time deputy for the sheriff’s office from 2012 to 2016.” The Times also wrote that Wright has “vowed to cut fat out of the budget and revamp the office’s leadership.”
Staton, 36, is the youngest and only female running in the election. She has worked for the Salem Sheriff’s Office for the past 14 years, serving as chief deputy since 2014, as stated on the official website for the Salem Sheriff’s Office. In this role, Staton has been responsible for “overseeing administration of operations, assisting in budget development and managing its accreditation.” According to the Roanoke Times, Staton said “she’ll continue building on the office’s current direction,” but “cited responsive customer service and strong professional development for employees” as areas she’d give special attention.
Only a couple of weeks into the election cycle and this year’s race is already breaking historical precedent. The Roanoke Times highlighted that the last contested race for Salem Sheriff took place in 2001. Adding that if Staton wins the election, she “would be the first woman to serve as Salem sheriff since the title was created in 1971.”
However, the prospect for more people to join the race is high, as the candidacy deadline is not until June 13. The official election for Salem Sheriff will take place on November 7.