NOVA TownHall is conducting interviews with the candidates for the office of Loudoun County Sheriff in the 2011 elections. The first interviews are with the Republican candidates. NOVA TownHall will offer the same opportunity to any Democratic candidates for sheriff who may enter the race, and also extends an open invitation to Sheriff Steve Simpson to be interviewed and to rebut any criticisms which may be leveled against him on these pages.

Click here to read the interview with candidate Verne Dickerson.

Click here to read the interview with candidate Ron Speakman.

Click here to read the interview with candidate Mike Chapman.

[Editor's note: Mr. Davis has withdrawn from the race for the Republican nomination].

Click here to learn more about Mark Davis at his campaign Web site.

NVTH: Why do you want to be Sheriff?

Mark Davis: I want to be sheriff because I see a problem in Loudoun that needs to be solved, and that problem is a broken Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department. I have the skills, the experience, and the knowledge to fix the problem and transform the Sheriff’s Department into a 21st century crime-fighting unit that our citizens can be proud of.

NVTH: How long have you lived in Loudoun County?

Mark Davis: My parents, brother, sister and I moved to Round Hill in 1972.  I graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 1978.  I attended Criminal Justice classes at Northern Virginia Community College and began working for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in December of 1980. I joined the Leesburg Police Department in July of 2004 and am currently a Sergeant in the Patrol Division.

My wife, Betsy and I were married 20 years ago, and we live in Middleburg with our youngest daughter, Lauren, who is in college studying Criminal Justice… following in my footsteps!  Betsy has lived in Middleburg all of her life and is currently the Mayor.  We have raised 3 wonderful daughters here and now have 3 precious grandchildren…. we are blessed.

NVTH: Why are you more qualified than the other Republican candidates?

Mark Davis: I am the only candidate who is an active duty police officer in Loudoun County. I was with the Loudoun Sheriff’s department for 23 years and have been a Leesburg Police officer for 6 years. What this means is that I have known the problems we face for a long time, and I’ve been working on solutions for them for years. I can hit the ground running with solutions to protect the people you care about.

In addition, I am the only candidate that has the experience in all areas of the Sheriffs’ office. I am the only candidate that has the experience in the Constitutional areas (Court Security / Civil Process / Jail) and has actually worked with our Loudoun County Constitutional officers.

I have been a patrol officer, and as a sergeant I currently supervise patrol officers. I also did this when I was with the Sheriff’s department. I was a 2nd Lieutenant at the Adult Detention Center. I have worked courtroom security, served warrants, and was even an instructor Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy for seven years.

In addition, I have worked inmate transportation and, of course, traffic enforcement.

Not only that, but I have also been a certified EMT Shock – Trauma Technician. I started out with the Round Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, and when Betsy and I moved to Middleburg I joined the Middleburg Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Also along these lines I am a founding member of the Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Recovery Team.

Why is this important? Because the Sheriff’s Department and EMT teams need to work together, and only a sheriff with experience in both departments can understand the problems unique to each and the challenges inherent in coordinating operations in difficult environments.

What my experience in Loudoun also means is that I know the problems we have with crime in all parts of the county. I am also already intimately familiar not only with the inner workings of the sheriff’s department, but with the Leesburg Police Department, which is the largest police department in Loudoun.

Because of my experience throughout the count and my experience in all areas of law enforcement, I have a plan to bring reform to everything the sheriff’s department is responsible for.

My solutions are therefore Loudoun-specific. I will not need any “on the job training.”

NVTH: Why are you a Republican?

Mark Davis: I am a Republican because I am a conservative, and the home of conservatives is the Republican Party. At both the national and local levels we see governments whose tax and spend ways are out of control. Government just gets bigger and bigger, and wants more and more tax money. We’re running deficits that are unsustainable. We need to lower taxes and reign in government. We are even seeing it here locally.  The tax and spend liberals on the board of supervisors keep trying to raise our taxes and restrict our freedom. This must change.

Other issues are important to me also. I am pro-life. I grew up around guns, and have done a lot of hunting, so the Second Amendment means a lot to me. We’ve got to do something to control our borders. We have had several horrible crimes committed by criminal illegal aliens in Loudoun and nearby. This cannot continue.

NVTH: Why do you think Steve Simpson should be replaced as sheriff?

Mark Davis: You can break it down into two areas: integrity and poor management. I’ll go over each one.

We saw in the 2007 election that Steve Simpson ran for the nomination as a Republican, but switched to an Independent after he lost. This violated the explicit pledge that he and all of the other candidates made, and that pledge was that they would support their party’s nominee.

More recently is the Osama El-Atari affair. In 2007 and 2008 Simpson accepted some $35,000 from Osama El-Atari as part of his reelection campaign. In August of 2010, Mr. El-Atari was convicted of multiple accounts of bank fraud and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had defrauded investors out of $71 million total from banks around the country.

Worse, approximately $15,000 of those contributions was made in May of 2008, during the very time El-Atari was engaged in his criminal activities.

Rather than do the right thing and immediately donate the money to charities, Simpson did nothing. It was only after a sternly worded editorial in the Loudoun Times Mirror, begging Simpson to give the money back, for him to do anything. On December 9, 2010, Simpson gave $15,000 of the money to local charities rather than to the people from whom it was stolen.

These and many more things call into question Sheriff Simpson’s integrity.

Second is poor management. It’s well known that there are problems with morale in the department. Not too long ago there were 56 unfilled positions. Some have been filled mostly to work in the Jail. However, those hires are attending another academy which cost our taxpayers more money because we are not a participating agency of the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy. The point is that many positions within the department are unfilled, and there seems to be little urgency to filling them. Loudoun citizens deserve a fully staffed Sheriff’s Office.

The county jail, or “Adult Detention Center,” as it’s called, is too small. This is inexcusable, and was the result of poor planning.

NVTH: If elected, what are your top priorities?

Mark Davis: My first priority is to restore integrity to the Sheriff’s office. I’ve covered the problems in that area in your previous question.

Second, gangs are a problem in Loudoun County. Citizens are worried because gangs are dangerous and they can infiltrate our schools and threaten our children. I have an aggressive strategy that targets gangs and their members.

Part of my strategy to fight gangs is to identify who they are, where they live, and what criminal activity they are engaged in. By removing the threat of gangs we remove a large part of the drug problem. We also secure the safety of our children at their schools and on the playground. And we bring security to business owners who will lose customers if gang members are known to hang out near their places of business.

Third, criminal illegal aliens threaten all of us. In 2007 Sheriff Simpson was urged to implement the 287(g) ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) program, but stalled for months before finally doing so. And when he did, his efforts were half-hearted and seemed more the result of a calculated effort to salvage his political future than a true commitment.

The 287(g) program benefits counties such as Loudoun because it allows us to identify those illegal immigrants our officers encounter while performing their standard law-enforcement duties. These criminal illegal aliens can be handed over to ICE for deportation where appropriate.

We have had several instances in and around Loudoun County where criminal illegal aliens have committed heinous crimes. We need to do a better job of identifying and detaining these people so as to prevent these outrages.

I know how important the 287(g) program is, and as your Sheriff I will make sure that this program is fully funded and operational.

Finally, Cyber-Crime is a major concern of mine. The citizens need to be informed of current trends & scams so they can keep themselves well protected. Hosting community shred events will help.

Although there are filters on most email programs, we have still received the emails; the request for your email password so as to as “to update our records,” the African banking official who needs information about your bank account so he can wire some vast sum to you, or the email that looks like it came from your own bank and which requests specific personal information… but just doesn’t look right.

It’s hard to know who to turn to when you’re not sure what’s real and what’s a scam. To help citizens answer these questions, I will host Cyber security & Cyber Crime forums and have a hot line so citizens can call and speak with a qualified detective on the topic.

We need to bring modern law enforcement to Loudoun County, and that means recognizing and addressing the most modern methods that criminals use.