A forum at the West Mathews Civic League on Oct. 19 had a more open format than previous forums, giving sheriff’s office candidates a bit more leeway.
Moderator Ted Broderson placed no time limit on introductory and closing remarks and gave speakers three minutes to answer each question. Rather than having each candidate answer every question, Broderson generally asked each question of only one candidate.
Incumbent Sheriff Danny Howlett kept his opening remarks brief, reminding the audience of all the social programs he has instituted since being elected 12 years ago. With a law enforcement career spanning over three decades, including 20 years as a marine patrol officer, Howlett said he likes the job of sheriff, where he can "really get out and help people."
Challenger Mark Barrick said his law enforcement career began in 1982 in Mathews, where he served 3½ years before becoming a uniform patrol officer for the City of Newport News. He worked first in a "high crime, high drug, high prostitution" section downtown before being assigned to vice, narcotics and street interdiction. He said his six-man team once made over 800 drug arrests in 12 months. Before retiring from the city in 2006, he also worked in burglary detection and in the special victims unit. Post-retirement, he worked part-time for several years in the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and now operates a lawn care business.