Taking on a new role

Liberty alumnus stepped up to become Lynchburg’s fourth sheriff March 31

CAMPAIGN — While taking over duties for Lynchburg Sheriff temporarily, Sloan is also running for the of office. Photo Credit: Sarah Rodriguez

CAMPAIGN — While taking over duties for Lynchburg Sheriff temporarily, Sloan is also running for the of office.
Photo Credit: Sarah Rodriguez

Lynchburg’s Deputy Sheriff Don Sloan, Liberty alumnus and former LUPD member, was officially appointed as the city’s fourth sheriff March 31 following the early retirement of Sheriff Ron Gillispie.

Sloan will also be running to keep the position in the June 13 primary.

After 22 years with LUPD and 15 in the Sheriff’s Office, Sloan was sworn in during a private ceremony with his wife and son.

More than 60 people attended a public swearing-in April 3 at City Hall, including Jonathan Falwell.

According to a press release, Gillispie stepped down after 46 years in law enforcement nine months earlier than planned to take care of his ailing 93-year-old father and spend time with his grandchildren.

He originally announced his decision not to seek a fifth term as sheriff in a September news conference, where he also publicly endorsed Sloan’s campaign.

Other prominent supporters include President Jerry Falwell and Liberty University co-founder Elmer Towns.

Sloan, 58, said despite being both a temporary sheriff and candidate for sheriff, his campaign would not impede his duties as sheriff.

“The Sheriff’s Office comes first—that’s my primary concern,” Sloan said.

“The campaign comes next.”

But Lynchburg Police Department Sgt. John Romano, also vying for the Republican nomination, thinks otherwise.

“The fact that the law allows someone who is running in a current election cycle to basically be appointed without being elected by the people is very concerning to me,” Romano told The News & Advance.

A member at the LPD for 18 years, Romano announced his running Sept. 16 just a week before Sloan.

Following Gillispie’s endorsement, Romano responded with a press release on his website criticizing the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t need more business as usual in an office that has been plagued with scandals and is out of touch with our community,” Romano said on his website.

Romano, 40, elaborated on the statement during a town hall meeting Feb. 27, where he highlighted a 2013 scandal in the Sheriff’s Office in which a former captain was found guilty of reselling gold stolen from Lynchburg Pawn to a Forest pawn shop in 2010 and 2011.

The News & Advance reported that Romano disagreed with how the situation was handled, saying that people would be held to a higher standard under his supervision.

But Sloan said the office followed protocol regarding the investigation and that Romano’s accusations are wrong.

“Everything was handled by Sheriff Gillispie, and he followed departmental policy,” Sloan said.

“What my opponent has to do to try and become sheriff is he has to
tear down.”

When asked if Romano thought the lawsuit could create tension should he be elected, Romano told WLNI he has maintained a professional relationship with the parties involved and the suit would not affect his role as Sheriff.

Sloan and Romano will continue campaigning until the primary for the republican nomination June 13. Sloan said there might be fundraisers in the future, but could offer no set dates.

Though no democratic candidates have come forward, the local Democratic Committee will have a nominating caucus May 1 at the Lynchburg Public Library to nominate candidates for sheriff, among other positions.

The election for Sheriff’s Office will be held Nov. 7. Students can register to vote in Virginia elections at elections.virginia.gov.

Vence is a news reporter.

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