Meet the candidates running for Bristol, Virginia sheriff


The race for Bristol, Virginia's next sheriff is heating up. Right now, Jack Weisenburger is wrapping up his final months as sheriff. He's served four terms as sheriff, 39 total years on the force.

Weisenburger announced his retirement earlier this year, leaving the race wide open for his successor.

All three of the candidates vying for sheriff have experience working in law enforcement. News 5 asked each why they want to be the next sheriff and how they plan to come out the winner.

Each has a list of improvements they'd make as the next sheriff.

Deputy Joe Mink oversees the courtrooms. After 30 years on the job, he said he's ready to branch out and be more visible in the community.

"You will see me out in the public, serving papers, helping when they need it in court and other aspects," he said.

As for inmates, Mink said he would put them to work for the city.

"Some - maybe your misdemeanors, non-violent [ones] maybe can help city employers to save money instead of hiring it out," Mink said.

He also wants to start more programs to get inmates back on their feet, once they're released.

David Maples has spent 16 years, working closely with the sheriff as chief deputy. He has worked at the Bristol, Virginia sheriff's department for 35 years.

Maples is focused on issues at the jail. He said last year, there were 143 inmates each day.

"Our jail is overcrowded so I look forward to working with the city, and court officials to come up with possible solutions to deal with the overcrowding," he said.

Maples said he's also fighting for more competitive salaries for deputies.

"Quite a few staff members have left to go to other positions in other departments," he said. It's a problem Maples sees, even though the department got a raise last year.

Coming in with an outside perspective, Randy Campbell left the Bristol, Virginia sheriff's department after 12 years to become a deputy in Washington County.

He lost to Sheriff Weisenburger back in 2013. Now he said he wants to bring back several programs from his time in Bristol, including a community watch program for the elderly and work programs for inmates.

"Vegetable gardens, with the inmates raising the vegetables," Campbell said. "I'd like to see the inmates working on all city streets."

Campbell said he won't make sweeping changes. But he feels he has a lot to offer the team that's already in place.

"They've got a good staff and I think I could work with the present staff to move forward," he said.

The Bristol Chamber of Commerce is hosting a sheriff candidate forum on Thursday at 6 p.m. Election day is November 7.