3 competing for Republican Commonwealth’s Attorney nomination

Shannon Dillon, Jeff Everhart and Tony Pham are competing for the Republican nomination to run for the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney seat in the Nov. 3 general election against incumbent Democrat Shannon Taylor. Each responded to the Citizen's candidate questionnaire, and their answers appear below.

SHANNON DILLON
1. Why should voters select you as the Republican nominee for the Commonwealth's Attorney seat?
Because I am the only candidate who has prosecuted and defended in all courts. I was a federal prosecutor, military prosecutor, state prosecutor. I have been entrenched in the Juvenile courts where we have an opportunity to intervene and make a difference. It will take the work of the community but I believe that if we as a community, work together, we can stop or at a minimum slow down the matriculation of juveniles into the adult criminal courts.

2. What would be your top focus if you ultimately are elected to the seat in November?
My primary focus upon taking over the office would be to establish credibility and accountability in the office. The judiciary, law enforcement and the citizens of Henrico County have lost confidence. The Commonwealth's Attorney has an obligation to set the standard. I intend on setting that standard high and expecting the individuals in the office to rise to the challenge.

3. What is the most critical issue facing the office? How do you propose to address this?
The most critical issue facing the office today is Shannon Taylor and her lack of experience in the art of leadership. She has had more attrition in the three years of running the office than any other Commonwealth's Attorney. She has no mentoring program for her younger, less-experienced attorneys. She does not believe that her deputies need to be in court. My intent, should I win, is to hone in on the specific talents of each attorney in the office. Additionally, the deputies would earn their 6-figure salaries and would be required to be in court. One cannot lead (or for that matter manage other attorneys) from the Starbucks on Staples Mill Road. Finally, everyone will be expected to account for their time, thus ensuring the taxpayer gets what they are paying for.

4. How will you involve citizens in the duties and responsibilities of the office?
First, it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth's office to speak with victims and witnesses of crimes on a regular basis. I believe that the Commonwealth's Attorney must factor the wishes of the victims and community members in negotiating the outcome of cases. Additionally, I would suggest that monthly community meetings (in the community) would help bridge the gap between the office and members of the community. We are faced with a unique situation where many members of our community don't trust and believe in their leaders and their law enforcement. It is incumbent on the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney to take a leadership role in reaching out to and rebuilding the trust amongst members of the county and county leaders. We can't sit idly by and do nothing. It is important that we address the issues openly and honestly and we do it immediately. I think waiting for an election is wasting valuable time!

5. What's your favorite way to spend a weekend?
Doing something with my husband and kids. You typically find us in the backyard with neighbors grilling and swimming and having s'mores! Very relaxing!

6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of?
I am a proud member of the NRA, a member of the Wounded Warriors Foundation, I am my son's team mom for little league, a member of a private shooting club; any and all free time is spent enjoying time with my kids. I only have a limited time with them and I want to take advantage of what time I do have!

7. Additional information
I was a competitive gymnast for nearly 12 years, I played softball, tennis, soccer, golf, racquetball and was on swim and diving teams. I love the theatre, thunderstorms, camping and fishing and the sound of my kids giggling.Finally, I'm a trial lawyer, it’s what I love and I do it well.

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JEFF EVERHART
1. Why should voters select you as the Republican nominee for the Commonwealth’s Attorney seat?
I am the candidate with the most experience, having practiced criminal law in Henrico for 33 years. My experience exceeds that of my two competitors combined. One candidate has 7 years of criminal experience and has never tried a criminal case in Henrico, while the other has 11 years of criminal experience with 7 years experience in Henrico. And, I am the only candidate for the Republican nomination with more experience than the Democrat incumbent. I have spent my career building the relationships essential to operating an effective Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. I know the judges, the lawyers, the police, the deputies and the clerks. Others can talk about building relationships; I have already built them.

2. What would be your top focus if you ultimately are elected to the seat in November?
My top focus will be to bring leadership to the office. I will be a consistent presence in the courthouse and will lead from the front. I will mentor the younger attorneys in the office and seek to groom qualified, career prosecutors. While no Commonwealth’s Attorney can handle every case in a jurisdiction the size of ours, I will personally handle more cases, not just the high-profile ones. In addition, I will be available to the citizens of Henrico, the lawyers, and the police. The job is done in the courthouse and that is where I will be.

3. What is the most critical issue facing the office? How do you propose to address this?
The lack of leadership in the office has led to a significant amount of turnover. Of the 29 assistants in the office, 14 have left under the incumbent’s stewardship. That number does not even include the 7 assistants fired when the incumbent took office. I will address the problem by providing leadership. I will handle my fair share of cases and make the office a more attractive place to serve as an assistant. I will also assist the younger prosecutors on a daily basis and let them know I am there to support them.

4. How will you involve citizens in the duties and responsibilities of the office?
My duty is to represent the citizens of Henrico County. If you, your family, or your business become the unfortunate victims of a crime, I will be available to address any questions or concerns you might have. I will make community outreach an integral function of the office, appearing before and engaging civic groups, focusing on preventing crime and working to better inform the public of the operations of the office.

5. What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children. We enjoy going to Charlottesville for football games in the fall and relaxing together during non-football weekends. My wife and I love to attend our children’s sports and other activities, which keeps us busy and involved with other parents.

6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of?
I am a member of the Virginia State Bar and of the Henrico County Bar Association. I am also a member of the John Marshall American Inn of Court and of the Henrico County Republican Committee.

7. Additional information
I am not a politician. This is the first elective or appointed office I have sought and is the only political aspiration I have. Henrico’s last three Republican Commonwealth’s Attorneys, our current Sheriff and Clerk of Court, and our former Chief of Police have all endorsed my candidacy. As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I will be available to the citizens of Henrico County, and will operate the office professionally and capably. We will do things the right way.

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TONY PHAM
1. Why should voters select you as the Republican nominee for the Commonwealth's Attorney seat?
I bring a wealth of actual prosecution experience to the table. My resume contains experience of actually having done the job that I am seeking. I am the only candidate who has actually prosecuted murder cases and violent gang members. Being a prosecutor is different than being a defense attorney. Prosecutors are expected to work with victims and police to build a case from scratch, to hold the case together and get it to trial. I am the only one who has built cases in the context of prosecuting murder cases and violent gang members. I am also the only candidate who has managed an office of prosecutors while being tasked with the daily operations of the office. I have trained young prosecutors on the fine art of building cases using the grand jury. I further possess the experience in having trained law enforcement personnel. Finally, being a Commonwealth’s Attorney requires you to be a statesman. I am the only candidate with a proven record of experience in all three areas as a prosecutor.

2. What would be your top focus if you ultimately are elected to the seat in November?
First, because of my experience as a prosecutor, I recognize that there is a growing issue of gang related activity in the world of human trafficking. It has gotten easier for the organized crime syndicates to traffic people than it is to traffic firearms and narcotics. With the new human trafficking legislation, coupled with the gang participation statutes, I look forward to doing our best to disrupt and dismantle these crimes in Henrico County. Second, I am invested in community involvement. My experience as a prosecutor made me realize that a successful criminal justice system relies heavily on the confidence the entire community has in its stakeholders. I would focus on holding town hall meetings in each of the magisterial districts in order to provide the community in each district an opportunity to review crime statistics and then to also discuss what issues are relevant to their well-being.

3. What is the most critical issue facing the office? How do you propose to address this?
I believe it is a training and supervision issue with younger attorneys. It’s not a secret that there were two major mistrials in some serious jury trials. The issues were based upon human error, but the resulting impact was devastating to the victims who rely upon the prosecutors. I would work on pairing younger prosecutors with more seasoned attorneys on cases which are tried by juries so there would be an experienced set of eyes to review the evidence, discuss the process and to examine the ethical obligations of the prosecutor as it relates to the disclosure of evidence.

4. How will you involve citizens in the duties and responsibilities of the office?
I am heavily invested in community involvement. My experience as a prosecutor made me realize that a successful criminal justice system relies heavily on the confidence the entire community has in its stakeholders. In order to build this confidence, there needs to be two-way communication between the stakeholders and the citizens. Holding town hall meetings in each magisterial district will provide its citizens the opportunity to review crime statistics and engage in conversation on issues which are relevant to their well-being.

5. What's your favorite way to spend a weekend?
You know, I am a lucky man who married up in life. I am also a proud dad of 2 wonderful children. My best weekend would be taking my daughter to her swim meets on Saturdays and then also taking my son to his flag football games on Sundays. Somewhere in between that, we would be getting some Ray’s Water Ice and chat about how their week in school was.

6. What personal or professional clubs or organizations are you a member of?
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Henrico County Bar Association; Virginia Sheriffs Association; Virginia Asian Advisory Board; Richmond Vietnamese Association.

7. Additional information
On June 9, Henrico voters will have the opportunity to select who the Republican nominee will be. I urge each voter to take a look at the type of experience they wish their chief prosecutor to have. I have the experience of actually having done the job for which I am applying. My experience is more than just trying tough cases, but also includes consensus-building and leading an office of prosecutors. I ask for your vote on June 9.
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27


The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair


Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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The Open University of The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond will present Lunch and Life, a four-week series open to all persons 50+ at no charge, at St. Mary Catholic Church, 9505 Gayton Rd. Today’s speaker, Dr. Edward Ayers, president emeritus at University of Richmond, will present “Richmond’s Civil War Legacy.” A bag lunch will begin at noon, with beverages and dessert provided by the church; the speaker will start at 12:30 p.m. For details, call 355-7282 or visit http://www.tscor.org. Full text

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