Archived Story

Isaacs makes re-election bid

Published 9:24pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Three people — Raleigh Isaacs Sr., Aaron Johnson and Jen Pond — are running for election to the office of sheriff of the city of Suffolk on Nov. 5. This is the first in a three-part series of profiles of the candidates, which will run today, Thursday and Friday in the Suffolk News-Herald. The stories will appear in alphabetical order of the candidates’ last names.

Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Sr. says his record of service to the city of Suffolk should be the deciding factor in the city’s only contested race for the upcoming election.

Isaacs hopes to be re-elected Nov. 5 in a three-way contest for the office of sheriff.


Isaacs began his first term as sheriff in 1994 and has been re-elected four times. Before becoming sheriff, he had served in the Suffolk Police Department for about 24 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree earned from Christopher Newport College (now University) in 1980.

“I think that we are actually running on our record of providing service to the citizens,” Isaacs said. “In the last four years, I think we’ve done an excellent job of doing that.”

The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for courthouse security, serving civil process papers and assisting the police department in the transportation of juvenile and mentally challenged individuals.

Isaacs said he has made many improvements to the office through the years.

“When I was elected in ’94, I didn’t have enough manpower to do the job,” he said. “I knew that.”

Isaacs asked for money for part-time positions and began hiring retired law enforcement officers. He now has 16 part-time employees in addition to 24 full-time employees.

Hiring retired law enforcement officers rather than rookies has saved the department more than $7 million since 1994, he said. The savings include mostly benefits that would have been paid to full-time employees as well as the cost of training and weapons that don’t have to be provided. Most retired law enforcement officers buy their service weapons when they retire, he noted.

Hiring retired officers also gets more out of the investment the police department made, he said.

“That entire investment you have in an employee goes to waste, unless you can put them to work,” he said.

Another improvement he’s made is to courthouse security, he said. When the new courthouse opened, he moved certified law enforcement to the front entrance, because he perceived a safety weakness there.

“That is a crime prevention thing, because people come in the building and they see you’re there and you’re armed.”

Isaacs’ opponents have called for his office to be accredited, but he says the process is expensive and would be more useful for a department that operates a jail or conducts primary law enforcement functions.

“We don’t do those functions,” he said. “When we looked at it, it was expensive.”

Isaacs did not have an estimate on how much accrediting his department could cost. It could require a new position to handle the extra work, he said, and the department would have to pay for hotel, food and travel costs for the auditors when they visit each year.

“It’s just not cost-effective,” he said. “It’s a lot of fluff, is what it is.”

Isaacs’ opponents also have called for the sheriff’s department to be more involved in law and traffic enforcement within the city. Even though sheriff’s deputies have full law-enforcement powers, the police department is the primary agency in Suffolk for law enforcement, Isaacs said.

However, he said, he has an “excellent relationship” with Police Chief Thomas Bennett and his department assists the police in numerous capacities, including juvenile transports and fingerprinting.

Isaacs’ critics have also brought up something that took place during his 2005 campaign, when a newspaper article insinuated he had taken money from an event that was supposed to be for a nonprofit organization and put it in his campaign account, he said.

He held a basketball tournament, and teams that entered the tournament made their checks out to “Friends of Raleigh Isaacs,” his campaign account.

Isaacs said he later wrote a check from his campaign account to pay for lunch at a senior event.

“They tried to insinuate I was taking money for the seniors and padding my campaign account,” he said. “It was the other way around. There was nothing to it.”

General Registrar Susan Saunders said recently her office no longer has financial records from the 2005 campaign.
Isaacs also responded to opponents’ perception that he has exerted influence over the justice system’s treatment of his son, Raleigh Isaacs Jr., who since 2006 has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol four times.

Each time the charge has been reduced, dismissed or not prosecuted. The younger man has been convicted, however, of refusal to submit to a blood or breath test, reckless driving and, in an incident that didn’t involve driving, drunk in public.

In his first comments to the Suffolk News-Herald on the subject, Isaacs said he has taken a hands-off approach to his son’s legal troubles.

“My son is 52 years of age,” the elder Isaacs said. “He makes his own decisions. I don’t always agree with his decisions … but I don’t have any control over that.”

He noted the local judges and prosecutors have recused themselves from handling his son’s cases, and he said he has never tried to influence anyone else.

“If I were to try to do that, it would be me who would end up in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail serving time,” he said.

“As a parent, we raise our children hoping they’ll do what we want them to do. When a child reaches 18 years of age in Virginia, we don’t have any control over that person from that time forward. There’s been insinuations about my position politically and being able to influence some sort of part of his trial or something like that, which is totally false.”

Financial reports

All figures are through Sept. 30.

Total receipts — $14,615

Total spent — $8,128.93

Contributions over $100

  • JCB Construction Company — $500
  • Randolph Carter and Luci Clair Carter — $500
  • Ralph J. Nahra — $500
  • Frank Rawls — $250
  • Esppar — $250
  • Parr Enterprises Inc. — $250
  • Back Bay Outdoors LLC — $150
  • Ronald H. Williams — $500
  • Clay White — $250
  • Eclipse Seafood Company — $500
  • Thomas Hazelwood — $500
  • Mimi Inc. — $500
  • James and Lisa Darden — $200

Expenditures over $100

  • The Shopper Inc. — political advertising — $450
  • King’s Kids — ad — $100
  • Lake Kennedy Civic League — donation — $100
  • Virginian-Pilot — political advertising — $2,422
  • Garnett’s Embroidery — political materials — $570.94
  • — political materials — $3,341
  • Embroidery Etc. — political materials — $330.72
  • Friends of Chris Jones — political event — $125
  • Raleigh Isaacs — stamps — $138
  • whitemarshtaxpayer

    I agree with Lovebug . It is time for change !!! But its not going to happen with the other 2 running against Issacs.. One of them has to drop out and put their support with the other candidate to have a chance of beating the incumbent machine . Otherwise it will be Suffolk business as usual which is the good ole boy network … It is time for change ..Please vote him out.!! The city needs to change .!!

    Suggest Removal

    • thekytikat

      It can happen WhiteMarsh. Honestly, The fact that the Pro-Sheriff Isaacs crew isn’t paying any attention to the Aaron Johnson article proves they don’t view him as a viable threat. The way they attack Jen Pond proves to me they are concerned about her chances of being able to beat the sheriff.

      **Cue PeteMalone, Fred/Dog, and Mildred to being attacking me in 3….2…..1…..

      Suggest Removal

  • ron0435

    I look for experience when selecting a person I think will do the best job. Clearly Johnson and Pond do not have the experience required to do the job of sheriff. Yes, they have worked for a Sheriff or Police Department. But what upper management or leadership positions have they held in those departments or in any public organization for that matter. The Office of Sheriff requires Public Management experience. Accreditation is for a Sheriff’s Offices that has a jail or Law enforcement responsibilities. Having deputies do police functions when you have a police department will create problems at many levels of city government. The current Sheriff has proven he knows what he is doing.

    Suggest Removal

  • NoSuff

    I’m a bit concerned that candidates Johnson and Pond have ambitions and are making a bunch of promises with total disregard for the financial impacts.

    The certification that they propose has nearly 200 individual requirements that have to be met. Most of these requirements require written policies. How many man hours will be required for developing, writing, distributing, and enforcing these policies just to say you have a certification? Wouldn’t it be better to review the guidelines and adopt those that make sense, using best judgment on which ones require written procedures and which do not?

    Similarly, will the use of sheriff’s deputies be reassigned from their current duties to work help with traffic enforcement or will we have to hire additional deputies? Or are the other candidates implying that the current staff is goofing off and has plenty of time to do extra work.

    I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I already pay enough in taxes. I do not see a need to spend more of Suffolk tax money for something that the community has not identified a need for. It sounds like the two challengers are promising grand things with disregard to their cost or effectiveness just so that they can try to distinguish themselves from the Sheriff. If Ponds and Johnson want me to take them seriously, they should tell me what these initiatives cost and how they will truly benefit the community.

    Suggest Removal

  • blueberry

    I guess he needs to stay so he can keep bailing his son out of jail and trouble

    Suggest Removal

    • Jefferson

      Hopefully, you will reconsider your bitterness which clearly is not perceived or shared by most parents, the public, the court system, the professional Sheriff’s Department employees, the huge number of Isaac supporters and, of course, today’s Virginian Pilot endorsement. Also, the SNH reporter today in her column shows some of the baggage the other two candidates bring to the race based on their own, personal attitudinal problems while in lower law enforcement positions than they now aspire to.

      Suggest Removal

  • Lovebug

    I’m thinking its well beyond time for some new blood in the Dept. Some times change is good to mix thing up abit. I never see this many anywhere and now all of the sudden election time is here and i’m seeing him everywhere even at store openings. Kind of crazy how these people do their business. I have a feeling Jen Pond is going to give this man a tight run for his position.

    Suggest Removal

    • gs

      Yea, Obama brought us some change.

      Suggest Removal

      • Lovebug

        I don’t believe Obama has anything to do with this election. I’ve known Jen Pond for a very long time and know her to be well educated and always adding to her education. She is very able to manage the Suffolk Sherrifs Office and then some.

        Suggest Removal

      • NoSuff


        While education is a great attribute, it is not the only attribute required for this position. I agree with Ron0435 who indicated that experience is a primary factor, especially leadership experience. I didn’t see anything in this article that indicated any sort of former leadership roles. Leadership is a fine art. The leader of an organization is the sole person that can single handedly make or break an organization. I think that anyone wanting to be Sheriff should show some satisfactory executive leadership experience.

        Suggest Removal

    • whitemarshtaxpayer

      Lovebug ,, I am going to help you out with this .. They are talking about how much experience the incumbent has. Well that can be good and bad .. You and I agree it is time for change .. We both think Ms Pond has the qualifications to do a good job.. My opinion is that the fox guarding the henhouse now probably has too much experience .. He has been there long enough to know how to steal the eggs without us that are paying the bills knowing he has stolen them .. LETS continue to wish for the change and let MS Pond gather her continuing career experience as the new sheriff for our great city …

      Suggest Removal

      • gsmith963

        Lovebug and whitemarshtaxpayer,
        Does Ms. Pond’s qualifications include quitting the Police Department without notice and her wanting to use the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a vendetta on the Police Department.

        If she doesn’t get the additional funds to hire new personnel to write traffic tickets and implement a needless and expensive accreditation program, is she going to pile all her equipment in her sheriff’s vehicle and park it behind the courthouse and email her friend Tracy Agnew at the Suffokk News-Herald her resignation.

        Just want to knoe if that is part of her qualifications.

        Suggest Removal

      • thekytikat

        GSmith – if you’re going to bash a candidate, at least get the platform right. It’s Aaron Johnson who has said that the Sheriff’s office needs to get into the business of handing out traffic tickets & visiting old people.

        Jen is the one who wants accreditation & to modernize the sheriff’s office while giving back a portion of her salary. Her profile will be online here in a few hours, and I fully expect to see the usual crew (Mildred, Fred/Dog, PeteMalone, and you) on that thread bashing her.

        Suggest Removal

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