On Friday, news reports indicated Governor Terry McAuliffe cancelled an annual meeting with Virginia Sheriffs’ Association leadership intended to discuss budget issues, including deputy sheriff salaries, because a majority of sheriffs endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie in the 2017 Virginia governor’s race.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:
“The director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has accused Gov. Terry McAuliffe of canceling a budget meeting in retaliation against sheriffs who have endorsed Republican Ed Gillespie for governor.
With polls showing a close race between Gillespie and Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is running largely on McAuliffe’s legacy, the dustup with the VSA is a sign McAuliffe may be growing frustrated by perceived allies throwing their support to Gillespie. On Thursday morning, the Gillespie campaign announced that Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey had switched his endorsement from Northam to Gillespie.
McAuliffe’s office did not dispute Jones’ claim that the meeting was canceled due to political feuding…”
Speaking about the cancellation, Gillespie said, “Public safety is a fundamental responsibility of the government, and it’s wrong that the McAuliffe-Northam Administration cancelled the annual meeting with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, especially given the critical deputy compensation issues that were to be discussed. With an increase in gang violence and an opioid epidemic sweeping the Commonwealth, this is no time for pettiness. It is clear that law enforcement and public safety is not a priority for Governor McAuliffe and Lieutenant Governor Northam. It will be for me.”
Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard added, “I am very disappointed and surprised to see Governor McAuliffe cancelled a long-standing annual practice of meeting with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA) leadership to discuss the deputy sheriff salary situation and other budget issues. The VSA is not political in nature and does not endorse candidates. They simply represent the over 6,500 deputy sheriff’s serving proudly in Virginia regardless of their political affiliation. This budget discussion was to explore salary enhancements for all of them and now, by the Governor’s actions, he has made an always nonpartisan issue a divisive political issue. To his credit Governor McAuliffe has done good things for the Sheriff’s during his term and to now bring partisanship into play is concerning.”
“The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association is not a political organization,” added York County-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs. “It does not endorse, and its sole purpose is to advocate for sheriffs and deputy sheriffs across the Commonwealth, which is exactly what it sought it do in meeting with the McAuliffe-Northam administration about budget issues. In cancelling this meeting, the Governor is playing politics with our deputy sheriffs’ livelihoods. His actions are beneath the office in which he serves, and it is a slap in the face to all of Virginia’s law enforcement officers who make sacrifices each day to keep Virginians safe.”
“The annual meeting between the governor and the Virginia Sheriff’s Association is of vital importance to law enforcement officers all across the Commonwealth” said Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey. “It is infuriating that Governor McAuliffe cancelled the one of the rare we have to discuss budgetary issues. The McAuliffe-Northam administration should know better than to play politics with our pay raises. This decision is an insult to Virginia’s finest, who put their lives on the line each day to protect our Commonwealth. We have taken a solemn oath to serve all Virginians, not just those we agree with, and the Governor should take the same approach.”
Two weeks ago, Gillespie announced he earned the endorsement of a majority of Virginia sheriffs. Earlier this week, Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey pulled his endorsement of Lieutenant Governor Northam and endorsed Gillespie.
In July, Gillespie released Job One: Keeping Virginia Safe, his plan to combat gangs, reinstate Project Exile and reward those who serve and protect. As governor, Gillespie will designate the Attorney General to Serve as the Commonwealth’s Anti-Gang Chief, secure funding for the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, ban Sanctuary Cities in Virginia, expand the “Youthful Offender Program” at the Virginia Department of Corrections, ensure the continuation of school resource officers (SROs) in schools, pursue funding of the Witness Protection Programs in violent gang activity, establish Gang Prevention Programming at Department of Education, and develop Alternative Educational Opportunities for Known Gang Members.
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