The performance of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office took a drubbing as two challengers on Jan. 4 launched efforts to take away the job of the brand-new sheriff.
Wanda Younger and James Herring detailed what they saw as flaws in the office during campaign kickoffs before the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
“The status quo in the sheriff’s office is not working,” said Younger, who spent 31 years in the office before retiring as a lieutenant. “I’m committed to changing.”
Herring, who has served on the Arlington police for four years after five with the Metropolitan Police Department, criticized staff shortfalls and a lack of transparency in the sheriff’s office.
“We should not allow this to happen,” he said. “A department outsider is needed now more than ever. A fire cannot be put out from inside the house.”
Younger and Herring will square off against Jose Quiroz in the June Democratic primary. Upon the retirement of long-time Sheriff Beth Arthur on Jan. 5, Quiroz – her chief deputy – automatically became sheriff for the remaining 11 months of Arthur’s term.
Both Younger and Herring said the sheriff’s office and county police department were not successfully working in sync. They “operate in separate silos when they could be cooperating,” Herring said.
(While sheriff’s offices are the primary law-enforcement agencies in Virginia’s less urban counties, in Arlington the office serves in a secondary law-enforcement role. Its primary role is operation of the detention center, court security an serving warrants and other legal paperwork.)
Having two challengers running against an incumbent could prove problematic for the new arrivals in the race, as they likely would split any anti-establishment vote. Races for constitutional offices like sheriff continue to be run via a winner-take-all format, so Quiroz would only need to get a plurality to win the nomination, which given Arlington’s political proclivities usually is the only election that counts.
Arthur has served for sheriff for more than two decades. She was appointed to the slot (having been director of administration for the office) upon the resignation of then-Sheriff Thomas Faust, and easily triumphed in elections throughout her tenure.