Richmond Sheriff Antionette V. Irving defeats challenger in Democratic primary

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Richmond Sheriff Antionette V. Irving (photo: 8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – With no Republican eyeing a run in the Nov. 2 general election, Antionette V. Irving appears to be on track for another four-year term as Richmond’s sheriff after defeating challenger William Burnett in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. 

Irving went against former Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. two times before beating out the incumbent in the city’s 2017 Democratic primary. In Tuesday’s primary, Irving took nearly 55% of the vote while Burnett received 45%.

In a statement Wednesday published on Facebook before the full results came in, Irving shared her gratitude to the city’s voters and her supporters for re-electing her “as the Democratic presumptive candidate.”

“Yesterday was a good day and this has been a new type of journey for many; but, we have proven that we are up to the challenge,” Irving wrote in the post. “Congratulations to you all for this step. Together, we can continue to make this city we love so much all that we want it to be.”

Burnett congratulated Irving on her victory and thanked his supporters in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“While I am disappointed by the results of the election yesterday, I am forever grateful to the many supporters that helped throughout the duration of my campaign and those who supported me at the polls yesterday,” he wrote. “I remain committed to the City and my desire to serve. My love for our community is unwavering and my devotion to continuing to give back and be involved in many realms will not stop due to the results of yesterday’s election.”

Elected sheriffs have different roles depending on which locality they serve. Sheriff’s offices can act as local law enforcement, administer local jails, protect courtrooms and serve summonses. 

The Richmond Police Department investigates crimes and enforces the law in the city, leaving the sheriff’s office with more traditional roles: operating the city jail, staffing and protecting the city’s three courthouses with deputies, serving court documents and transporting inmates and suspected offenders.

The majority of counties in Virginia rely on a local sheriff’s office to police their communities, with only nine counties, Henrico and Chesterfield being two, having their own separate police departments. 

On many occasions, local sheriffs run unopposed and maintain control for years as sheriff races get little attention and employees don’t typically wish to challenge for their boss’s job or publicly support someone else. Nine sheriffs in Virginia have served their respective localities for over 20 years, according to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

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