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

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