Commonwealth’s Attorney Candidates
MATT GEARY, REPUBLICAN
1. Why should residents of Henrico County elect you? I am a 39-year resident of Henrico County, the proud father of five school-age children, the former Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Richmond, and a former president of the Richmond Criminal Bar Association. I am the most experienced, most well-rounded of all of the candidates running for this office. I possess both serious prosecutorial experience and managerial experience. I personally prosecuted multiple homicide cases, robbery cases, sex offense cases, child abuse cases and countless other serious felonies and misdemeanors. I interacted on a daily basis with victims and their families, oversaw 41 prosecutors and approximately 60 staff members and victim witness advocates and managed all interagency operations with all the other law enforcement agencies in the Greater Richmond area. I have extensive jury trial experience (more than 100 juries) and have spent nearly every working day for the last 16 years in a courtroom.
2. What will be your top focus if elected? My top focus will be the timely prosecution and sentencing of offenders in an effort to protect the safety of Henrico County’s citizens, their families and their property. I will work 24/7 to accomplish this. I will work hard to dispel public perception that the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is unresponsive or unsensitive to the needs and concerns of certain groups or biased in favor of other groups. I will work hard to obtain convictions and jail time for all whose behavior warrants it, with special emphasis on child predators, individuals who prey on vulnerable adults, abuse cases, robbery and burglary cases, sex offense cases, murder/manslaughter cases and crimes committed by a felon in possession of a handgun or other form of deadly weapon.
3. What is the most important responsibility or most critical issue facing the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office? How would you propose to address it? Crime at all levels needs to be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted promptly to lessen its effect, and the public needs to know that that will be the case. If elected, I intend for the office to be much more visible to the citizens it serves. I intend to utilize resources in the office to supplement the police’s efforts and to educate the citizenry about crime prevention and how the Commonwealth Attorney’s office serves them. I will have prosecutors assigned to different areas of the county to ensure accountability and to ensure that they know the citizens and the businesses throughout the county.
4. How will you involve citizens in matters of government? I will maintain an open-door policy for all citizens. Citizens should not hesitate to bring even the smallest concern of criminal activity occurring in Henrico directly to my attention. We will be out in the community getting to know the citizens and businesses, and I plan to have meetings periodically to update the citizens on the office and get their input.
5. What’s your favorite way to spend the weekend? I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy fitness activities and target shooting.
6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of? Virginia State Bar, Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, Bar of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Bar of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Henrico County Bar Association, West End Business, Tuckahoe Little League, Benedictine High School Coach’s Club, Fraternal Order of Police No. 4 (Associate Member)
7. Additional information: Further information about me and my campaign can be found at http://www.mattgeary.com or on Facebook or LinkedIn.
BILL JANIS, INDEPENDENT
1. Why should residents of Henrico County elect you? I have the background, education and experience, the character, integrity and proven record of results and the vision, leadership and management skills to lead the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. I am the only candidate with the leadership, management and administrative skills honed at sea in submarines and destroyers as an eleven year Navy veteran. Having been elected to represent Henrico in the House of Delegates for 10 years where I have served on the Courts of Justice and Militia, Police and Public Safety Committees and where I currently serve as the House Republican Whip, the third ranking elected leader in the House, I have sponsored legislation to ensure “deadbeat dads” pay their court-ordered child support, to take a “zero tolerance” stand on teenage drinking and driving and to protect our kids from violent sexual predators on the internet.
2. What will be your top focus if elected? The Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Office has a reputation for professionalism, integrity and results. I want to preserve and enhance the integrity, professionalism and effectiveness of the office, setting the tone, providing the leadership, and obtaining the additional resources and policies necessary for the current staff to be even more effective at what they do. I am the only candidate who will arrive on day one with the network of professional relationships necessary to ensure that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office continues to work closely with our partners at the local, state and federal level to keep Henrico safe.
3. What is the most important responsibility or most critical issue facing the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office? How would you propose to address it? To keep our kids safe at school, our businesses safe by day and our homes safe by night. I would appoint an experienced attorney to oversee an “incorrigibles program” to focus our maximum effort on the “troublemakers” who invariably cause the most trouble. This deputy would work with the assigned prosecutor to review the criminal histories of all defendants with pending “show cause” hearings, research how much suspended jail time the defendant may have from previous convictions, confer with all police and prosecutors who have previously investigated or prosecuted the defendant, obtain details about the nature, seriousness and harm caused by their previous crimes and obtain their testimony for the pending hearings.
4. How will you involve citizens in matters of government? I intend to actively seek out input from my constituents and make myself available at all times. I understand that as an elected public official, in every aspect of my life, both public and private, I am at all times fully accountable to those whom I serve, the citizens of Henrico. Public service requires the highest possible standards of professionalism, integrity, ethics and accountability. I have been held to and met that standard every day of my life since I took my first oath of office as a Navy officer.
5. What’s your favorite way to spend the weekend? Although I have not had much free time on the weekend since entering the race in August, my favorite weekend pastimes are church on Sunday, watching football and hiking up Old Rag Mountain with Boy Scout Troop 720.
6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of? Boy Scout Troop 720; St. Benedict’s Catholic Church.
7. Additional information: I am endorsed by Eric Cantor, Ken Cuccinelli, Bill Bolling, Walter Stosch, Jimmie Massie, Manoli Loupassi, John O’Bannon, Patricia O’Bannon, David Kaechele, Dick Glover, Lisa Marshall, Diana Winston, Mike Wade, Yvonne Smith and Wade Kizer. I have been married for 24 years to Rose Ann and have two children, Rachel and Robert. Contact me at (804) 728-0572 or http://www.billjanis.com.
SHANNON TAYLOR, DEMOCRAT
1. Why should residents of Henrico County elect you? The citizens of Henrico should vote for me because I have, by many years, the most professional experience for this position. I have, by far, more prosecutorial experience than both my opponents combined. I have worked my entire legal career in the criminal justice system, with twelve years as a professional prosecutor. In that capacity, I have tried virtually every kind of criminal case.
2. What will be your top focus if elected? My top focus will be, from day one, making sure Henrico citizens are safe and secure. Because of my years of experience as a prosecutor, I will be able to hit the ground running, no on-the-job training will be needed. I want to expand the victim assistance program to ensure we have the best in the state. We need to improve coordination between mental health services and the court system to get individuals the help they need. I will make sure that victims of spousal or child abuse have a safe place to go and that their abusers are prosecuted. I am going to start a program to ensure that youthful offenders do not become lifetime criminals. Finally, Henrico is a large and diverse county and I will hold town meetings in both the eastern and western portions. I am going to start a neighborhood prosecutors’ program, like neighborhood policing, and we will increase the diversity in the office reflecting the diversity of the county, including some bilingual prosecutors.
3. What is the most important responsibility or most critical issue facing the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office? How would you propose to address it? The most critical issue is making certain that dangerous criminals are convicted and gotten off the streets. That is the number one responsibility of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. I will do this whether we are talking violent crime or individuals driving while intoxicated or white collar crime robbing families of needed resources.
4. How will you involve citizens in matters of government? I intend to hold town hall meetings, at least two a year, in different parts of the county. I want the prosecutors in my office to go out into the community and they will be assigned to different neighborhoods. Citizens will know and be able to develop a relationship with their local prosecutor. Finally, I am going to have a very strong victim assistance program.
5. What’s your favorite way to spend the weekend? This time of year, I enjoy attending UVA football games. I always enjoy relaxing with friends and family on the weekends.
6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of? Professional organizations – Virginia State Bar, Richmond Criminal Bar, Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar. Personal clubs – UVA Club of Richmond.
7. Additional information: Because of experiences in both the state and federal system, I bring a wealth of knowledge, understanding and relationships to the office. I have worked with the four largest offices in the area and know what to select to improve the management, effectiveness and accountability of the office.
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2015, has completed a number of volunteer projects this year and raised thousands of dollars for various organizations through three events.
The club's annual rose sale, benefit for youth live auction and Virginia Fire Games competition, combined with individual and corporate donations, have raised nearly $70,000 – money that the club contributes back to the community.
FeedMore is the beneficiary of the club's 25th anniversary project, which provides refrigerated trailers to be used for the distribution of food throughout Central Virginia. > Read more.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio will host a special three-course dinner event July 21-22 at his Willow Lawn Family Meal restaurant. The menu will consist of his favorite dishes and offer diners the chance to purchase a signed copy of his newly released book, HOME.
Voltaggio will attend and cook at each dinner, as well as share stories that inspired recipes for the book. > Read more.
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