The nonpartisan public candidate forum that was held last at Goochland High School made a big impact on residents who came to participate in the election of the next Sheriff, Levin White, and Commonwealth Attorney, Mike Caudill. The event, moderated by the very personable and professional Gene Rossi, was extremely diverse and engaging.
Rossi asked a series of detailed questions, presented by residents living throughout Goochland, on topics ranging from school safety to concerns related to the ongoing growth and development that has been occurring in the eastern end of the county. Levin White and Mike Caudill both encouraged ongoing, proactive, training for local law enforcement deputies and both candidates noted the importance of maintaining an open, transparent, line of communication that should exist between the sheriff’s office, residents, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
On the minds of Goochland County residents who presented questions to be asked on their behalf were those that reflected the ongoing changes that would need to be accommodated, or implemented within the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office, namely the participation in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Evidence was cited for this need by pointing to the recent attempted home invasion committed by an individual from New Zealand who had been conversing with a local underage teen online. The story made national news headlines on the potential dangers presented by online interactions which led residents to further question why none of our elementary schools have an assigned resource or security officer.
In Goochland County public schools, iPads are issued for immediate home use in the third grade, yet there is no formal online safety training verbally given to students before they are handed out. However, school drills that enact an active shooter on the premises scenario, in elementary schools, began within the first full month of school beginning this year. It seems fair for parents to assume that young children of Goochland County have a layer of protection afforded to them throughout the day by the availability of a full time school security officer. The fact of the matter is, if the student is in a Goochland County elementary school, they don’t.
Mike Caudill reinforced his commitment to being available to county residents and spoke about the absolute need for correct reporting procedures by deputies. Being able to adequately prosecute cases involves the requirement of case information being presented comprehensively as well as correctly. The Commonwealth Attorney was able to, this week, prevent a registered sex offender from having open access to a local elementary school. Caudill thanked the informed, concerned, residents who wrote letters pertaining to the case for their part in protecting the welfare of students.
Levin White focused directly on leading a proactive law enforcement agency that would provide ongoing training to deputies in areas relevant to public safety. Several residents inquired about the increase in population that is a direct result of an expanding county. With the addition of a truck stop in the western part of Goochland County, and a hotel getting ready to open on the eastern end, there are growing needs for an additional law enforcement presence. While the western part of Goochland already has immediate access to the sheriff’s office, there is also a need for a level of accessibility on the eastern end which will include a sheriff’s substation that would be located in Centerville.
Gene Rossi closed the forum with humor and professionalism. The nonpartisan event drew from a fair, unbiased, collection of questions, thoughts, and concerns from residents. Margie Derriberry, of the Goochland County Tea Party, and Tina Winkler of the Goochland Democratic Party, showed a great deal of welcoming decorum in co-hosting the event. Rossi mentioned the value of the ‘Man in the Arena’, a famous and powerful quote by Theodore Roosevelt. It is the person who shows up, time and time again, to answer questions and build bridges, that deserves the credit as well as the vote.