Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur on Nov. 24 became the second Arlington elected official to announce she would not seek a new term in 2023.
“After more than 22 years as sheriff, and 36 years with the Sheriff’s Office, I think it is time to hang up my spurs,” Arthur said in a statement announcing her decision. “It has been a privilege and honor to serve the citizens of Arlington.”
The county sheriff oversees a staff of just under 300 and an annual budget of $47 million. While in more rural areas of the commonwealth a sheriff is the primary law-enforcement official, the office’s primary responsibility in Arlington is to oversee of the Arlington County Detention Center, which has an average daily population of about 275, and provide courthouse security.
Arthur is one of five constitutional officers in Arlington – so named because their duties are embedded in the state constitution. Others include the clerk of Circuit Court (Paul Ferguson), treasurer (Carla de la Pava), commissioner of revenue (Ingrid Morroy) and commonwealth’s attorney (Parisa Deghani-Tafti). Ferguson and Tafti also serve the residents of the city of Falls Church.
Over the summer, de la Pava told the Sun Gazette she plans to seek re-election to the post she’s held since 2013. Deghani-Tafti on Nov. 24 announced she planned to seek a second term.
Arthur began work in the Sheriff’s Office in January 1986 under the tenure of then-Sheriff James Gondles, and rose to director of administration under Sheriff Thomas Faust. When Faust resigned to take another job, Arthur in 2000 defeated John Baber and Elmer Lowe in a special election to win the job and become Virginia’s first female elected sheriff, a post that in the Old Dominion traces its roots back to the 1600s.
“My focus has always been the employees in the Sheriff’s Office and the exceptional work they do each day, the safety and security of the jail/courthouse, and ensuring those incarcerated are treated with dignity and respect,” Arthur said in a statement announcing her plan to retire.
Arlington being Arlington, the selection of an eventual successor is likely to rest with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Should more than one candidate emerge seeking the Democratic nomination, the party most likely would select its nominee in the June state primary. The general election likely would be a mere formality.
Arthur’s decision not to seek re-election comes on the heels of County Board Chairman Katie Cristol’s informal announcement that she would not seek a third four-year term. More formal announcements – from incumbents, challengers and those seeking open seats – are likely to come during the Dec. 7 Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
On the Arlington ballot in November 2023 are the five constitutional offices; two County Board seats; one School Board seats; two state Senate seats; and two House of Delegates seats.