The city of Fredericksburg is holding a special election tomorrow to elect a new Commonwealth's Attorney. I'm just wondering if anyone local to the area has any thoughts or insights on who I should want to vote for!
If you don't want to post "on the record", feel free to PM.
JOSEPH "JEH" HICKS
Education: James Madison University; Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Alabama Experience: Private practice with Hicks & Sasser
LaBRAVIA J. JENKINS
Education: Columbia College; George Mason University Experience: Prosecutor in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County; public defender
Education: Mary Washington College; Cumberland School of Law at Samford University Experience: Prosecutor in Stafford County
More information from Saturday's Free Lance-Star:
Voters will select new prosecutor for the city Tuesday in special election
December 13, 2008 12:36 am
BY ELLEN BILTZ
The candidates for Fredericksburg commonwealth's attorney are getting their first taste of what it's like to be a politician.
For two of them, Wednesday will mean back to business as usual, but the one who picks up the most votes from Fredericksburg residents Tuesday will be shaping the office and, in some ways, the community.
The special election Tuesday was called after longtime Fredericksburg Commonwealth's Attorney Charles Sharp was appointed to a judgeship earlier this year.
LaBravia Jenkins, one of the three candidates on the special-election ballot, was deputy commonwealth's attorney under Sharp and was appointed to replace him on a short-term basis until the election.
Jenkins said that because of her years of experience in the office and her knowledge of how the job works she is the best candidate.
"I am doing it now and I have been trained for this basically for the last eight years," she said in an interview last week.
The other two candidates up for the job, Stafford prosecutor Eric Olsen and private attorney Joseph "Jeh" Hicks, each said he is ready to hit the ground running if elected.
Olsen has been prosecuting cases for 19 years, and said his experience and knowledge of the Fredericksburg community make him the man for the job.
"Most people's lives are not touched by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office," he said. "Day in and day out, it's filled with challenges, and I know how to handle the challenges."
Hicks, who has never been a criminal prosecutor, said his different perspective on the court system will be a benefit to the office, not a drawback.
"In comparison, prosecutors are armed with law enforcement officers and experts," Hicks said. "As a criminal defense attorney, you are going into court with your client and, if you're lucky, a witness. I've gone into it with disadvantages and been successful, so I'm looking forward to the advantages of the office."
All three candidates praised some of the programs already in place in the city. The drug court was mentioned as a successful entity they plan to continue to utilize.
Jenkins said her hope is to make sure the office continues running smoothly.
"I want to keep this office and the tone of this office going," she said, adding that she believes the office is already successful.
In interviews last week, both Olsen and Hicks said they have plans for ways to enhance the office.
Hicks said one of the first things he hopes to implement is a mentoring program for the city's youth.
"We need to move from just programs to prevention," he said.
Hicks, a lifelong Fredericksburg resident, said there are leaders in the city who could be used to influence children and introduce them to the positive aspects of the criminal justice system before they have a chance to get into trouble.
He said he has already talked to people, including Mayor Tom Tomzak and Police Chief David Nye, about their willingness to participate in a program for youths.
Olsen said that if elected he would institute what he calls community prosecuting.
He said he plans to assign one prosecutor from the office to be a representative and a contact for each of the four wards in the city.
"Rather than simply waiting for problems to come into the court, prosecutors will go into the community," he said.
He said that as part of the community prosecuting, he also plans to assign a prosecutor to the city schools to work with the resource officers and probation officers already there.
The special election for the new commonwealth's attorney is Tuesday. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
The winner will be in charge of the office until the next regular election, in November 2009.
Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424