April 22, 2014
Fluvanna County's sheriff is stepping down from the position he's held for more than a decade to take on a new challenge at the state level.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that Fluvanna sheriff Ryant Washington will serve as the special policy adviser for law enforcement of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This position did not previously exist.
Washington will report to the secretariat of public safety and homeland security.
"We are very pleased for Sheriff Washington," Fluvanna County administrator Steve Nichols said. "It's a great loss for our county."
The ABC has received some unwanted attention recently for how agents pulled guns on a University of Virginia student at the Barracks Road Shopping Center when she bought sparkling water. Agents reportedly believed the then-20-year-old student was buying alcohol.
A spokesman for the governor's office would not connect the new position to that incident, but says "there's been attention to issues and procedures that could've gone better."
"The governor wanted to make sure there was a position in that agency that would ensure that the law enforcement function at ABC is working as smoothly as possible," spokesman Brian Coy said.
Washington was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but now, for the first time in 14 years, Fluvanna County will have a new sheriff.
"This is the normal course of events in counties and localities," Nichols said. "People come and go. In this case, it just happens to be in mid-term."
According to Virginia code, county supervisors have 15 days to petition the circuit court judge to fill the vacancy once Washington leaves.
"The circuit court judge will have to make that decision on whether we do a special election in advance or wait until the general election," Nichols said.
Washington last won re-election in 2011, and his current term would end in January 2016. The next general election is scheduled for November 2015, but a judge could order a special election to be held earlier.
"We're losing an amazing county leader, colleague and friend who served our county for almost two decades, but we're pleased and honored that he gets to join the governor's staff and therefore still support all the residents of Fluvanna County," Nichols said.
In his new role, Washington will oversee the ABC law enforcement, training and standards of procedure. His last day in Fluvanna County will be May 2.