By Katie Wildes
Incumbent Rockbridge County Sheriff Chris Blalock crushed his opponent, 91 percent to 9 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
For several weeks, the race for sheriff has been described as lopsided – and a joke.
Blalock has held the position since 2012. He has been working with the sheriff’s office since 1986 and held multiple positions in the department.
His challenger, Brian Rowsey, has no experience in law enforcement and is new to the area. Most of Rowsey’s interaction with the law comes from three misdemeanor theft convictions in 2007.
Four years ago, Blalock won a three-way race with 75 percent of the vote. The previous sheriff, Bob Day, was retiring.
Throughout the campaign, Blalock has been expected to win.
Currently Rowsey is a landscaper and owns a pawn shop. He told The Rockbridge Advocate he believes his experience in armed and unarmed security would serve as grounds for experience.
Previously, Rowsey could not get a job in the sheriff’s department due to his record. Rowsey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice without force. Pleading guilty to the lesser charge will now allow Rowsey, if he wins, to serve as Sheriff. Another charge includes destruction of a public document.
Blalock and Rowsey fail to see eye to eye on many issues. Rowsey thinks he is a prime example of unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, while Blalock believes our system treats everyone fairly.
However, in light of the massive Sept. 30 drug roundup in Rockbridge County, both candidates agreed drugs are the most pressing issue currently facing the county.
In a forum on Oct. 21, Rowsey declared the drug problem a result of boredom in the community. In his opinion, they have no other option but to resort to drugs and sexual activity because of gyms being closed and kids being too old for playgrounds like Kids Playce,
Blalock said he is glad the drug roundup stirred a conversation in the community. He sees a real issue with street dealers encouraging supply, demand, and addiction. A large problem is family life and how the kids are being raised, Blalock said.
The position as Sheriff includes a heavy amount of administrative work and management of the 42 full-time and three part- time workers. Nearly 14,000 registered voters in the county are eligible, but turnout seems to be as expected, at or below 30 percent.