PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) - A forum with all three candidates for Portsmouth Sheriff brought more than 100 people Thursday night to the Scottish Rite Temple.
From corruption questions to deputy pay, it was a tense conversation, because all three candidate want to wear the Sheriff’s badge.
“I believe in serving the people. I am here for one purpose, for you," explained current Sheriff Bill Watson, hoping to win re-election.
“I look forward for the opportunity to really serve with honor and dignity," said candidate Michael Moore.
Glenn Perry Sr. said, "We can change things, give me an opportunity."
Watson's been the sheriff for 12 years, and says he doesn't make promises he can't keep. Moore was a Virginia State Trooper and worked for the FBI, while Perry was an officer -- born and raised in Portsmouth -- and says he is ready for change.
The moderator asked the candidates, "Do you believe a new city jail or renovation of the current facility should be a top priority for the city of Portsmouth?"
All of the candidates agreed it should be.
Thursday night's forum was designed to help citizens learn more about the candidates, but some people wanted to know about the past regarding Sheriff Watson and the city's elected officials.
The moderator said, "Please explain your actions regarding the [former Mayor] Kenny Wright chase. Looking back, would you have handled the situation differently?”
Sheriff Watson replied, “No, sir, I wouldn't have."
Watson filed felony eluding charges against then-Mayor Wright after trying to pull him over for an expired inspection sticker. A judge eventually dropped all charges against Wright.
The conversation then moved to City Councilman Mark Whitaker, who was charged with multiple counts of identity fraud and forgery earlier this year. Sheriff Watson defended his investigation that went to a grand jury.
"It only took 43 minutes to get 20 indictments," said Sheriff Watson. "When there is smoke, there is fire."
Those who attended the event didn't hold back in questioning the candidates.
“I want to know what all three of you gentlemen think about community policing," said a community member.
The forum ran out of time for everyone to get their questions in. Many say they were happy with the forum and the answers they received from the three candidates.
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