Reservist veteran looks for unity

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Suffolk resident Jay Clason is challenging the incumbent sheriff for the helm of the Suffolk Sheriff Department.

The election will be held Nov. 3 at polling places across the city.

Clason owns a travel agency with his wife, and was a former Christian school principal at schools across the country. However, his day jobs belie his military experience — he spent 37 years as an Army reservist, being called up numerous times and shipped off to 37 countries and 48 states as part of his duties.

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“I didn’t want to quit serving,” Clason said of his desire to be elected as sheriff.

Clason hopes to change the public’s perception of what Suffolk city government is about, he said, especially those who live outside downtown.

“Many (North Suffolk residents) feel very disenfranchised,” Clason said, noting he would have the sheriff’s office do more community outreach there if he were elected. Other outlying areas in the city also don’t feel a part of the city, he said.

“The outlying areas think, ‘How long do I have to live here before I’m a resident?’” he said.

Clason bases his qualifications for the position on his military experience, which has included helping to rebuild war-torn countries, managing refugee camps and prisons, and developing emergency response and evacuation plans for countries that have never had them before.

He also has spread the importance of inter-agency communication among law enforcement communities around the globe, he said.

“I did a lot of work with foreign governments,” he said. “I got things started to help take care of people.”

One significant experience in his career was helping to rebuild Bosnia in 1996, after four years of war ripped the country apart. Clason’s job was to help establish police precincts in the country, and to attempt to convince the war victims that the police were there to help protect them, not to harm them.

Years later, in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, Clason began to stress inter-agency communication, the need for which was recognized during the terrorist attacks that day.

“There was this strong movement after 9/11 to start unifying safety,” Clason said. “I was the staff person who gave presentations on how to coordinate people.”

Clason hopes Suffolk’s voters will consider voting for him on Nov. 3.

“This is a fast-growing area,” he said. “Suffolk has to come into its own.”

Clason acknowledged he doesn’t plan to make drastic changes if he’s elected, but does hope to make changes that will give the department more visibility.

“I want to team with the police department and improve the office without skyrocketing costs,” he said.

To learn more about Clason, visit