The Arlington Sun Gazette has endorsed incumbent Theo Stamos in the June 11 primary for commonwealth’s attorney in Arlington and Falls Church.
While acknowledging that critics have made some valid points about the operation of the office, the newspaper said Stamos has earned four more years.
Stamos “is the latest in a long line of commonwealth’s attorneys in Arlington – Helen Fahey and Richard Trodden among them – whose guiding principle has been justice for all as their highest priority,” the newspaper said in its endorsement.
Stamos is being challenged by Parisa Tafti. “It is a good thing our community writ large is having the current conversation about the appropriate role of the commonwealth’s attorney,” the newspaper’s editorial said of the challenge.
(See the entire endorsement by going to sungazette.news and clicking on the May 23 Arlington edition.)
I am honored and grateful to have the support and endorsement of Wayne Miles and Joseph “Jose” Crouch, two wonderful members of our community. Jose has served our country and has also served time. He understands, as I do, how important it is that we are all supportive of individuals reentering our community and civic life. Wayne is a shining light in Arlington, with a thriving local business on Shirlington Road and an understanding of the need for everyone to work together so we all lift each other up.
I have always believed in redemption and have worked closely with people like Wayne and Jose, as well as Arm & Arm, a local non-profit that focuses on support and empowerment for those who are reentering our community. We all need to work together to continue to make Arlington and Falls Church thrive, and I am grateful for the opportunity to support returning citizens in their reentry from the prison system back into our community.
“Theo has spent years making Arlington a safer community, and her experience and expertise has shown,” said Brian Lynch, President of the Local 2800. “When our members have been assaulted in the course of saving lives, we have seen her office take into account the victims perspective, while at the same time working to get the offenders the mental health help they need. Our community needs her experienced leadership as Commonwealth’s Attorney.” “Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to serve the community and keep us safe,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Stamos. “I’m deeply honored to have their endorsement and am committed to continuing my work together with Arlington’s public safety professionals to continue to make Arlington the Public Safety Success Story it is.”
I don’t usually send long emails. However, I am very concerned about deceptive and misleading mailers you may be receiving from the challenger in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s primary race on June 11, so I am writing a very long email now.
Let me say at the outset that Arlington is progressive and well-run, but not perfect. This includes the office of our current Commonwealth’s Attorney, Theo Stamos, who is up for re-election and whom I strongly support in this race. I believe we could use a healthy debate about equity in Arlington and how our legal justice system works. However, a healthy debate means using facts about what is working and what is not. Deceit and misrepresentation poison public discourse.
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti’s campaign mailers are deceptive. They cite cases from years ago as if they are current, describe national trends that do not reflect what is happening here in Arlington, and misrepresent the positions of our Commonwealth’s Attorney, Theo Stamos. They smear our police who risk their lives for us every day.
Our health as a community depends on excellent public safety. We have it and we need to keep it.
Details are below. I’ll start with what is being done right in Arlington and then address some specific accusations and innuendos in the mailers from Ms. Dehghani-Tafti. I apologize for the length of this email. I am happy to discuss this with anyone and hope it is helpful as you determine your vote on June 11.
“The question is not even close: Theo Stamos has done a remarkable job as our Commonwealth’s Attorney and deserves to be reelected. Falls Church is safe in large part because we are fortunate enough to have a top prosecutor who is smart on crime. Theo has and always will seek justice for victims, for the accused, and for the community. And for that she has my unequivocal respect and support. Please vote for Theo on June 11th. She has the experience, judgment, and heart to do this job.”
We proudly endorse Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection without hesitation.
Last year, 91% of Arlingtonians felt safe in this community. Our public safety success story is not the work of the police department alone. It is through our partnership with Theo Stamos that our community is able to achieve the enviable goal of low crime and low incarceration rates, while maintaining high satisfaction with the way we continue to maintain public safety.
In a small community like Arlington, the Commonwealth’s Attorney is not a distant figure who sits in a remote office. We engage with Theo and her prosecutors on a daily basis. We know that we can call her at any time to answer difficult legal questions. We are uniquely able to assess Theo’s tireless work ethic and her dedication to not only the law enforcement community, but as a lifelong public servant, to our whole community. We have seen the strength of her character as she has had to make difficult decisions, knowing that she is always grounded in the law and with justice as her guiding principle.
Theo’s work to combat the opioid crisis, her continued support of the multitude of community policing initiatives, and her participation in across-the-board training with law enforcement clearly demonstrate that she is the right leader for Arlington County. The men and women of the Arlington Coalition of Police and the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association have seen Theo’s leadership, temperament, and experience first-hand. She has earned our respect through her hard work and her constant collaboration to strengthen this community. We wholeheartedly support her reelection, and urge the citizens of Arlington County do the same.
“In the 33 years I have worked in the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office – 18+ as the Sheriff – I have worked with four Commonwealth’s Attorneys. I have never worked with a Commonwealth’s Attorney that did not treat everyone equally and all “ensured nobody was above the law.” I support Theo Stamos for re-election, because I do believe she is committed to and has embodied a 30+ year career of ensuring nobody is above the law.
The job of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to ensure justice for all and that includes for victims, witnesses, and defendants. They need to look at every case brought before them objectively and without bias. They have to put public safety front and center. The Commonwealth’s Attorney must be willing to work with all parts of the community, put public safety before politics, and bring prosecutorial experience to the job. At a time in our country when people are being attacked simply for being who they are, the CA must also have the experience to work with all parts of law enforcement to ensure that underrepresented communities feel safe, included, and heard.
The people of Arlington need a Commonwealth’s Attorney who is empathetic, but looks at the facts as well as the law. The recent accusation of “police brutality” by an Arlington County Police Officer was stunning given the facts of that case. And I stand with the Arlington Coalition of Police and the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association.
Arlington County is a public safety success story. We have achieved a low crime rate and it has been done by using numerous alternatives to incarceration. The Arlington County Detention Facility is at an all time low population averaging 370 inmates a day. Arlington residents are safe and give the Arlington Police Department a high approval rating, per the recent Arlington Resident Survey. These results have been accomplished though enlightened policing, smart prosecuting, and by putting public safety first. Theo Stamos deserves credit for her leadership and for championing programs like the Drug Court, the Second Chance Program, and for working with the General District Court to develop a Mental Health Docket.
Theo Stamos is a proven leader that has balanced public safety with decency by ensuring dangerous criminals are vigorously prosecuted and those just needing a hand are given the help they need – whether they are dealing with addiction, a mental health disorder, or homelessness. I have worked with Theo for 30+ years, and I know that honesty, integrity and ensuring nobody is above the law embodies who she is as a person and as a prosecutor.
While other communities and politicians tout their “tough on crime” efforts, we proudly point to our “smart on crime” results. A vote for Theo Stamos is a vote for the Arlington Public Safety Success Story.
“Theo is a terrific prosecutor whose decades of experience are accompanied by a vibrant drive to always do right AND better. The City of Falls Church is a safe, progressive, and decent place to live because of public servants like Theo. There is a reason Falls Church is #TeamTheo. She has my endorsement, my support, and my vote. On June 11th a vote for Theo is a vote for public safety, not politics.”
“When it comes to depth of civic engagement there is a clear winner in the race to be our next Commonwealth’s Attorney: Theo Stamos. Theo does ALL of the things we expect from our top prosecutor: she chairs the state-wide committee on best practices for prosecutors, she works with organizations that help to reintegrate citizens returning back into the community, and she is a frequent speaker in the community on important issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and juvenile justice. Theo has very deep roots in our community, like I do, and I can’t tell you how important that is in order to be an effective public official. You need to know your constituents, and more importantly, you need to know their values, and Theo does.”
“When my good friend Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos asked for my endorsement, I told her I was all in!
Arlington County is a Public Safety Success story, and Theo deserves a lot of the credit. As a School Board member, I can tell you that one of the reasons our schools are safe and our kids aren’t being prosecuted for childhood mistakes is because we have a progressive prosecutor for our Commonwealth’s Attorney.
For example, Theo is a founding supporter of “Second Chance,” a program aimed at diverting kids who find themselves in the early stages of drug or alcohol use.
More generally, Theo has never been involved in the type of heavy-handed prosecution you hear about where a juvenile is tried as an adult for a petty offense.
Arlington is a Public Safety Success story. And that success has been built on smart, progressive prosecuting — which is exactly how Theo has run her office for these past 7 years. We are lucky to have her, and she has my unequivocal endorsement as she runs for re-election.
Please join me in voting for her on June 11th.”
“As Arlington’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Theo has balanced the necessity of justice with compassion for victims and the safety of our community. She has kept Arlington as one of the safest counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia while providing opportunities for alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs for offenders. She has earned my support for re-election.”
“I’ve known Theo Stamos for over 30 years and have the utmost respect for her ability and integrity as a prosecutor. When she first ran for the top job, I told her of my concern that those suffering from addiction could be handled more humanely by the legal system and urged her to consider establishing a drug court program. She agreed and got the job done! That’s the kind of prosecutor Theo is!”
“Arlington is a safer place because we have Theo Stamos as our Commonwealth’s Attorney. She is fair, steady, and committed to doing what’s right.”
“My wife and I have known Theo personally and professionally for many years and fully support her re-election. She has served the community ably and on a daily basis makes the difficult decisions to balance the rights of victims with those of the accused. She has been a progressive leader among local prosecutors in supporting the LGBTQ community accessing the criminal justice system, the Second Chance program for our youth involved in alcohol and drug use, and comprehensive programs to support victims of sexual assault.”
“I really got to know Theo when she reached out to me as one life-long Democrat to another, asking for advice about her first campaign for Commonwealth’s Attorney. I was overwhelmingly impressed by her commitment to fairness, balance, and justice. Since that first election, Theo has continued to display those qualities. She started the County’s first drug court, supported the creation of the Second Chance program for young offenders, and devised alternative sentencing options in a whole range of cases. I enthusiastically support Theo as a proven, principled, ethical Democrat who deserves to be re-elected.”
“Theo brings 30 years of experience as an Arlington prosecutor, and is widely respected for her service as a leader of Virginia’s Commonwealth’s Attorneys. Her experience is irreplaceable and, like the team she has built, is widely admired for her professionalism and deep roots in the community. Arlington Democrats should be proud of Theo’s service to our party and our community.”
Dear Arlington County and Falls Church Voters,
As local attorneys and community members, we the undersigned members of the Bar, wholeheartedly endorse the re-election of Theo Stamos for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. As former Alexandria CA Randy Sengel wrote in a recent letter to the editor of The Washington Post, Theo brings “vastly superior qualifications and experience” to the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Theo stands out as a reform-minded prosecutor who has achieved impressive results. She has a well-earned reputation as someone who knows when to take a stand against violent and career criminals, but appreciates that incarceration isn’t the answer to people who make mistakes or suffer from illness or addiction. Theo has a record of accomplishments that the legal community of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church can be proud of.
Crime in Arlington County is at an all-time low. And that’s because of Theo’s advocacy for alternative sentencing and diversion programs, such as Arlington’s first Drug Court and the Second Chance program for young people, and endorsement of dispositions which avoid that first criminal conviction.
While we may not always agree, Theo has always maintained an open-door policy, listens respectfully to opposing counsel and responds in a principled, thoughtful, and responsible way. We urge the voters of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church to support Theo’s re-election bid in the upcoming June 11th primary.
|Sean O’Malie||Tim McEvoy||Brent Baxter|
|Nina Ginsberg||Jeff Jankovich||Nicholas Balland|
|Thomas Abbenante||Danny Onorato||Stuart Sears|
|Tom Carter||Adam Elfenbein||David Dischley|
|Aaron Book||Harry Dennis||Nader Hasan|
|Hunter Whitestone||Jim Korman||Billy Martin|
|Greg Hunter||Leon Demsky||John Boneta|
|Denny Rucker||James Davis||Benjamin Pelton|
|Richard Nguyen||Mark Thrash||Michael P. Weatherbee|
|Bruce Deming||Robert Whitestone||Jeff Mangeno|
|Brian Drummond||Conrad Gaarder||Jonathan T. Woodward|
|Billy Hicks||Dave Albo||Ben Inman|
|John Phillips||Drew Carroll||Charles Wall|
|Dickson Young||Nick Sarris||Paul Barnett|
|James Davita||Tom O’Neill||Mark Cummings|
|John Carroll||Ed Nuttall||Alberto Salvado|
|Charlie Fitzgerald||Wayne Stover|
Editor: I am not the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church – but I wanted to be.
In 2011, when Dick Trodden announced his retirement, I saw the opportunity to fulfill a professional dream. Having been a prosecutor in Fairfax for three years, then practicing as a defense attorney in Northern Virginia for 11 years, I decided to run for office. I knew Arlington County and the city of Falls Church, having practiced in all levels of the Virginia court system, and had worked with Theo Stamos when she was a deputy and then when she became chief deputy of the office.
As a prosecutor, Stamos always had been fair to work with. She was always willing to engage with not just defense counsel, but the community as a whole both as a prosecutor and a resident. I had great respect for her then – so much so that when I made the decision to run for office, I made an appointment to see her. I wanted to be the one to tell her directly about my intention to challenge her face-to-face, because as a professional, it was the right thing to do.
The voters disagreed with me in 2011 and elected Stamos. I do not regret for one moment having made the choice to run, nor the choice to challenge her. I continue to regularly practice at all levels of our courts in Arlington and Falls Church, from traffic offenses to serious felonies. I have never feared that there would be a negative consequence for having challenged here. Why? Because Stamos remains the same consummate professional that she always has been.
The notion that defense attorneys have to support Stamos or their clients will suffer the consequences is simply untrue. If anyone is uniquely positioned to make that statement, it’s me – having challenged her directly, I could have easily expected to be treated harshly when I had cases with her office. That may happen in other jurisdictions with other leaders, but Stamos is not just another leader.
My respect for Stamos has grown, rather than diminished, since she has been in office. My law practice takes me to many jurisdictions; her open-door policy is something other offices around the commonwealth should emulate. She is always willing to engage in a dialogue about a case and to truly listen when defense counsel from both the court-appointed and private bar approach her with issues. She has always taken this job seriously, as she should, and her judgment has always been grounded in the law, fairness and with justice for the community in the forefront of her mind.
There are certainly times when we have to agree to disagree, but that is the function of our adversarial system as a whole, not because Stamos is a prosecutor who rides roughshod over defendants when their attorneys want a different outcome.
The narrative that is being pushed by her challenger in this election is not based in the realities of practicing here in this community. That should not be a surprise, as challenger Parisa Tafti has zero experience in our courthouse. She has zero experience working with our courts, our community partners in the criminal-justice system, our law enforcement, or even our local bar association.
Since she was elected in 2011, Stamos has implemented progressive policies that have contributed in making Arlington the public safety success story that it is today. She started Arlington’s drug court for adults, she started Second Chance for juveniles, and Operation Safe Station, all efforts to combat substance abuse in our community. She long has been engaged with Project PEACE which focuses on domestic violence and sexual assault. She is part of the Arlington Restaurant Initiative, which includes a bar-bystander campaign. She works with Arm & Arm, a returning-citizens nonprofit organization. She continues to find ways to partner with community stakeholders to work to make Arlington and Falls Church a safe and fair community for everyone.
Would I like to see more changes that would benefit my clients? Of course I would. But I am a defense attorney and have only my clients’ interests to consider. The job of the commonwealth’s attorney is to balance all of the needs of the entire community, not just defendants.
Not only have I practiced in this legal community for many years, but I have been a resident of Arlington since 1994. My wife and I are proud to be raising our daughters here, knowing that the values of our community are reflected in our leaders.
Without a doubt, Theo Stamos is a leader who embodies those values and has the experience that demonstrates a long commitment to Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. I am proud to support her in her re-election, and I believe that our community should do the same.
Jim Moran, Former U.S. Representative, Virginia’s 8th district
Patrick Hope, Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates
Karen Darner, Former Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates
James Almand, Arlington County Circuit Court Judge, retired and Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates
Mike Herring, Commonwealth's Attorney, Richmond
Helen Fahey, Former Commonwealth’s Attorney, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church
Richard Trodden, Former Commonwealth's Attorney, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church
La Bravia Jenkins, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fredericksburg
Randy Sengel, Former Commonwealth’s Attorney, Alexandria
Bryan Porter, Commonwealth's Attorney, Alexandria
David Bell, Former Clerk of the Court
Carla de la Pava, Treasurer, Arlington County
Beth Arthur, Arlington County Sheriff
Frank O’Leary, Former Arlington County Treasurer
Stuart Raphael, Former Virginia Solicitor General
Abby Raphael, Former School Board Member
Barbara Kanninen, School Board Member
Frank Wilson, Former School Board Member
Marguarite Gooden, Former Principal, Arlington New Directions High School
Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board
John Milliken, Former Arlington County Board Member and Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
John Vihstadt, Former Arlington County Board Member
Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr., Former President, Arlington Branch NAACP
Steve Bittle, Sheriff, Falls Church
Tom Clinton, Commissioner of the Revenue, City of Falls Church
Jody Acosta, Treasurer, City of Falls Church
Dana Lawhorne, Sherriff, Alexandria
Arlington Sun Gazette
Falls Church News Press
Arlington Coalition of Police
Arlington Police Beneficiary Association
Arlington Professional Firefighters
The Stagehands Union, IATSE Local 22
Kevin Appel, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Susan and Jim Arnold
Andy and Nina Bacas
Kim and Brent Baxter
Rose Mary Beddingfield
Barbara and Jeff Benoit
Tony Bentley, Head Warriors Basketball Coach
Carol Ann Bischoff
Ron Bookbinder and James Fisher, former President of the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance
Dr. Anne L. Bryant
Evan and Vera Burfield
Bob and Laura Burke
Heather and Eric Burneson
Claire and Guillermo Bournigal
Tim and Elise Burns
Nancy Anderson and Avi Carbow
Richard and Bonnie Coleman
Sally Hill Cooper
Matt Norris and Ken Courtade
Daniel & Michele Creedon
Richard T Cullen
Peggy and Jeff Dahlquist
Cutler and Debbie Dawson
James De Vita
Patti and Leon Demsky
Mary P. Dooley
Lisa and Tom Dowdell
Betsy Wildhack and Susie Doyel
Sheila Lowry Dunbar
Brian and Sonja Elmer
Jeff and Adrienne Fallon
Matt and Laura Fetters
Ann and Doug Foss
Jim Gondles, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Mike & Dot Green
Phillip S. Gross
Erik and Nelia Gustafson
Tracy and Jerry Hanafin
Nancy Carbone and Bob Harwood
Charlie and Nancy Hennessy
Leslie Weber Hoffman
Steve and Barb Huntoon
Sherrie and Billy James
Rob and Kendall Jesmer
Kevin and Beth Jones
Terri and Jake Jordan
Chris and Dan Katcher
Amy and Paul Larson
Mike Leiberman, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Elmer Lowe, Sr.
Mark and Jennifer Mainardi
Phil and Kathy Manger
H. Alexander Manuel
James and Mary Maragos
John and Liza Marshall
Joanne and Jim McGlinchy
James & Juliette McNeil
Mark and Shelli Micali
John Milliken, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Christine Morgan Mulcahy
Elizabeth Welsh and Mike Murphy
Pam and Bill Murray
John and Georgia Nassikas
John V Notarianni
Darby and Susan Nye
Frank and Linda O'Leary
Sharon and Jeff Oliver
Bob and Susan Orttung
Sandi and Todd Parker
Andy and Susan Parker
Asha Patton Smith
Mary Ellen Payne
Dawn and Stephen Pietropaoli
Pamela & Mike Poth
Kathy and Conrad Rehill
Dan Richard and Synnove Granholm
David and Debra Rose
Andrew and Heather Rosenberger
Peter Rousselot, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Manny and Marilyn Rouvelas
Jane and Bruce Ryan
Cindy and Pete
Patricia and Eric
Paul Sheridan Jr.
Stephanie and Josh Siegel
Jim and Benta Sims
Samuel K. Skinner
Joel Atlas Skirble
Julie & Jim Stamos
Dan Steen, Former Chair, Arlington County Democratic Committee
Ted and Joanne Stump
Dave and Martha Swanson
Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.
Tom and Marie Tibor
Lisa and Aaron Tingle
Maureen and Terry Tobin
Karla McEvoy and Tom Hibarger
Alice and David Tornquist
Bobby and Laura Tramonte
Carol Svoboda & John Veroneau
Andy and Laurel
Rex and Kim Wackerle
Sue Walton and Bob Schrider
Mary and Vic Waters
Pete and Amy White
Sharon and Everett Yore