The second of three candidate forums hosted by the 99th District Tea Party featured the candidates for sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney for Northumberland and Lancaster Counties. All the candidates were in attendance and the Lancaster Middle School auditorium was well populated with citizens from the two counties. The third and last forum will be held on October 27 in the Ruritan Center, 3989 White Chapel Road, Lively.
The candidates for Northumberland County Sheriff, James “Doc” Lyons and Rev. Peyton Waller were the first to speak. In opening remarks, Lyons emphasized his long career in law enforcement, including his experience on the violent crimes unit of the Virginia State Police. Waller pointed out his involvement with and commitment to the community in Northumberland, especially to the youth of the county.
Lyons was asked his position on civil asset forfeiture, a process that allows law enforcement to seize and then retain or sell any assets they allege has been involved in criminal activity. Asset forfeiture has been subject to scrutiny due to the possibility of abuse by law enforcement. Lyons said, “I don’t believe seizure is proper without conviction.” He added that just because a citizen is in possession of a large amount of money, for example, it does not mean that they obtained that money through crime.
Waller was asked about his position on gun free zones. Waller replied “I think the people have a right to bear arms,” but added that schools and other public areas are not appropriate places to carry weapons. Later in the forum he said that certain qualified people, such as school resource officers, could reasonably carry weapons in school areas, but it was not a good idea for most people. Lyons agreed, saying that some people in certain positions could save lives by being armed.
Waller stated that the greatest challenge he saw in Northumberland County was the credibility of the sheriff’s office. “People don’t trust law enforcement anymore,” he said. He said that officers need to get involved and know the community in order to form a partnership against crime.
Lyons agreed with Waller’s position and added that a secondary concern was the drug problem in the county. This was followed by a question from the audience about the extent of drug crime in Northumberland. Lyons explained that drug arrests have increased in recent months due to the work of a “top-notch team of investigators.” Waller added that Northumberland has a good reputation for drug control but added, “I want to be as drug free as we can be.”
Read more in the October 21 edition of the Northumberland Echo.