Two more contenders are joining Democratic candidate Stacy Kincaid in the Fairfax County sheriff’s race.
Bryan Wolfe, 52, a retired Fairfax City police officer, has been announced as the Republican nominee.
Robert Rivera, 49, a former Arlington County sheriff’s deputy, will be on the ballot in November as an independent.
With nearly 600 employees, the sheriff’s office is the largest in Virginia. In addition to running the detention center, deputies provide court security for the Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, Town of Herndon and Town of Vienna courthouses and to serve court papers.
Sheriff Stan Barry, who held the office for 13 years, unexpectedly resigned in May, citing personal reasons. A special election to fill the remainder of Barry’s term, ending in 2015, will coincide with the Nov. 5 general election.
Democrat Mark Sites, a 17-year veteran and the highest ranking deputy under Barry, was sworn-in July 1 and will continue as sheriff until the election. Sites lost the Democratic nomination to Kincaid in July.
Wolfe, a retired 26-year veteran of the City of Fairfax Police Department who lives in Clifton with his wife and five children, said the fact that he is an outsider to the sheriff’s office is his greatest strength.
“I always felt that Stan Barry was inefficient,” he said. “I have many friends within the department and they all tell me that it is a very insular, inward-looking department that is resistant to new ideas.”
Wolfe said that as sheriff, he plans on changing that culture.
“I will bring integrity to the department,” he said. “I have no baggage and I do not owe anyone any favors. I also plan on being much more visible than Stan Barry was, and I have both my law enforcement experience and the fact that I have seen four different chiefs during my tenure in Fairfax City. I know different leadership styles and can utilize aspects of them all.”
Rivera, a former Arlington deputy sheriff who now works for the Department of Defense, lives in Springfield with his wife and two children. He says he is the man for the job because of his experience in law enforcement, contracts review and strategic planning.
“You have to know the partnerships and resources available to you,” he said. “My top priority as sheriff is to be as efficient and as fiscally responsible as possible.”
Rivera said one issue in need of immediate attention is the state reimbursement the county jail receives for housing inmates from other overcrowded jurisdictions.
“Dealing with mental health issues that many of these inmates suffer from winds up costing the department more money than they are receiving for their care,” he said.
Rivera also said too few sheriff’s deputies speak Spanish.
“I speak it fluently and I think more people within the department should as well,” he said. “There are many cultural and language differences that need addressing to be able to effectively interact with foreign-born inmates on a daily basis.”
Both candidates say they want to make major changes to the current leadership style of the office.
“I have spoken with people in the department and they have told me that they are ready for a change from the Barry leadership model. Studies have shown that employee production increases when a new leader comes in,” Wolfe said.
“There is too much cronyism and favoritism,” Rivera said. “I believe strongly in professionalism and I have the common sense to know that I don’t know everything, but I seek input from others and I place a high value on integrity, efficiency and accountability.”
Messages left for Barry were not immediately returned.