This story was updated on June 27 at 11:45 a.m.
On July 1, there will be a new sheriff in town.
On that day at 8 a.m., Lt. Col. Mark Sites, 41, will be sworn in as Fairfax County Sheriff.
In late May, Sheriff Stan Barry, who held the office for 13 years, tendered his resignation to the Board of Supervisors, citing personal reasons for his decision. His current term ends in December 2015 but he will cease to be sheriff once Sites is sworn in. Barry has made no public disclosure concerning the personal reasons behind his unexpected resignation, but Sites said Barry informed him about his decision three weeks before it was made public.
Under Virginia law, instead of appointing an “acting” sheriff, the chief judge of the circuit court must temporarily fill the vacant position with the highest ranking deputy sheriff, then call for a special election to fill the remainder of the term. Fairfax County has scheduled the special election to coincide with the general election on Nov. 5.
Sites, a Democrat, is now seeking that party’s nomination for sheriff in the November 5 election.
He will attend a caucus on July 23, in hopes of garnering that nomination, but from July 1 until the results of that election are in, Sites will officially be sheriff of Fairfax County.
Sites is a 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department and has served in a variety of line and supervisory positions, including chief of confinement, assistant commander of the emergency response team, commander of court services and chief deputy sheriff of administration. He is the first in his family to work in law enforcement.
“I realized in my 20’s that I did not want to work most of my life behind a desk or a computer,” he said. “But I had no idea, even 2-3 years ago, that I could ever become sheriff of Fairfax County.”
Sites said that idea only came to him after he was recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. “That’s when I began considering whether or not I would run for sheriff,” he said.
With nearly 600 employees, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department is the largest in Virginia. Its three core functions are to run the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center; provide court security for the Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, Town of Herndon and Town of Vienna courthouses; and to serve civil process documents.
Sites was born and raised in the City of Fairfax and still lives there with his wife and children.
“I attended Paul VI high school and received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from George Mason University, ” he said. Sites received his bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from GMU in 1995 and began working for the department that year after having served an internship there his senior year. “I worked part-time as a deputy as I went back to GMU to get my master’s degree in public administration,” he said. “Then I joined the department full-time in 1998.”
Sites is also a 2012 graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico.
He has also served as a member of the Fairfax Community Criminal Justice Board, and for the last year as chairman of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. He will be resigning from that position later this month.
“Mark has provided a great service to our community during his five years serving on the CSB Board, and especially during this past year as board chairman,” said CSB Executive Director George Braunstein. “I greatly admire and appreciate his calm, purpose-driven leadership style.” Captain Spencer Woods will become the new representative to the CSB from the Sheriff’s office, according to Braunstein.
Fairfax County Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis Smith will administer the oath of office to Sites at 8 a.m. on July 1 in the Fairfax County Courthouse.
The original version of this story contained an incorrect date.