As local elections take center stage in Floyd County and throughout the Old Dominion in 2015, voters here will have a variety of choices for races where incumbents are retiring or have moved on to other positions.
One candidate, veteran deputy Brian Craig, appears the frontrunner to replace Sheriff Shannon Zeman, who announced his retirement earlier this month. He is likely to face former deputy Doug Weddle, now a Christianburg police officer, and many also expect a second run by another former deputy, Laura Sparks.
Craig emerged as the candidate of choice after deputies met to see who among them wanted the position. He is currently the school resource officer for the second time, returning after a time as an investigator for the department. He has also been a dispatcher, jailor and patrol officer.
Craig is popular among deputies and their support is vital to win the seat. His record as a well-respected school resource officer could come into play since many former students are now young voters.
Weddle’s name came up as a candidate after some Republicans got upset over Zeman’s endorsement of incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner. He has told some in the party that he will “likely” run. Sparks is a critic of the department’s current administration. She ran and lost to Zeman four years ago.
Also looks like at least three candidates for Commonwealth’s Attorney after incumbent Stephanie Murray Shortt became a new Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge for the district and now presides in Radford and Giles County.
Circuit Court Marc Long appointed Republican Eric Branscom as interim prosecutor to serve out Shortt’s remaining term through the end of 2015. That raised some eyebrows because Branscom lost to Shortt, an independent, in her initial election in 2007.
Courthouse watcher expected the nod to go to Harrison Schroeder, law partner with Dale Profitt in Floyd. Schroeder is considering a run in the GOP primary to challenge Branscom. Another attorney is expected to announce in what could be a three-way race in the primary.
Brancom’s performance in the prosecutor’s job will be closely watched by Republicans, law enforcement officers and county residents who praised Shortt’s record, including an unbroken string of wins in jury trials. He faces a jury trial early in 2015.
In the Board of Supervisors, Little River District’s Virgel Allen is stepping down from his seat over health issues and one candidate, Linda DeVito — a Realtor, announcer for high school sports videos and former member of the original FloydFest team — has announced her intention to run and is expected to officially file after the first of the year.
Others, we are told, are considering a run, including former Little River Supervisor Kerry Whitlock, who lost in the GOP primary in 2007.