Arlington sheriff launches bid for new term

Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur speaks with constituents after announcing her re-election bid at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Feb. 6, 2019.

Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur on Feb. 7 kicked off a bid for re-election, touting successful partnerships her office has forged with other government agencies and the community at large.

“I hope that I can count on you,” Arthur told the Arlington County Democratic Committee as she launched a bid to retain the office she has held for the past 18 years.

With no challengers either within or outside the Democratic ranks on the horizon, it may be a brisk jaunt to a new four-year term for Arthur, who was serving as the office director of administration when she was tapped to be sheriff after the incumbent, Tom Faust, departed in 2000 to become executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. She was the first female sheriff in Virginia history, ending an all-male line that stretched back 300 years.

Arthur is “uniquely qualified” for the post, said Cristina Diaz-Torres, who last year served with her on the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s Joint Campaign.

“Beth listens, tries to understand what she can do, how she can help,” said Diaz-Torres, calling the incumbent “a compassionate fighter.”

While, in some parts of the commonwealth, the sheriff’s office is the chief law-enforcement agency in the community, its duties in more urban areas largely are focused on running jails and providing court security. The Arlington office has about 293 staff positions and an annual budget of $44 million, largely a mix of local and federal funds.

“We run a top-notch detention facility,” Arthur said in her remarks, while also pointing to innovations aimed at preparing those incarcerated to be ready to re-enter society when their release date arrives.

In recent years, Arthur has pushed – with mixed success – in obtaining County Board funding for higher staff pay so the department is not denuded by other public-safety agencies luring its personnel away.

At the state level, Arthur has been active with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, serving as its president in 2012-13.

Sheriff is one of four Arlington constitutional offices on the ballot in November, along with commissioner of revenue, treasurer and commonwealth’s attorney. The fifth office, clerk of the Circuit Court, is an eight-year position next before voters in 2023.

The other three incumbents, Democrats all – Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, Treasurer Carla de la Pava and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos – previously launched bids for re-election. Stamos is being challenged by Parisi Tafti in a June primary; the other incumbents thus far are unopposed.

Arthur’s career with the sheriff’s office dates to 1986, when she was hired as a budget and personnel analyst. She was promoted to director of administration two years later, and was named sheriff by the Circuit Court in July 2000.

Arthur subsequently has won five elections: a special election in 2000 for the remainder of Faust’s term, followed by general-election victories in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. She currently ranks 20th in seniority among Virginia’s 123 sheriffs, according to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, and is one of the longest-serving sheriffs in Arlington history (Howard Fields, who served from 1924 to 1944, and Elwood Clements, who served from 1948-52 and 1964-80, each have slightly longer tenures).

Arthur and her husband, Joel Lovelace, have two grown sons.

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