Battle for the badge: Bristol, Virginia Sheriff race heating up between Tyrone Foster & Charlie Thomas

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Election Day in Virginia is only one week away, and even with a number of big statewide races on the ballot, people here on the state line are focused on a contest closer to home.

With the announcement of Sheriff David Maples’ retirement, comes an open seat for Bristol Virginia Sheriff, a seat being sought heavily by two candidates both highly qualified, with decades of law enforcement experience.

Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is the Republican candidate in this race. He started his career in Bristol, Virginia in an auxiliary role, and soon after he was hired by the Bristol Tennessee Police Department in 1992. Thomas said he moved to criminal investigations in 1999 then started the domestic violence unit within the department in 2001.

Throughout the years, he climbed the ladder, receiving a number of promotions before landing in his current role as Patrol Captain, a role he’s held since 2014.

Thomas said he first contemplated a run for sheriff in 2016 but said now is the perfect time to run. “I see it as the start of another career,” said Thomas.

Tyrone Foster

Independent candidate Tyrone Foster also has decades-long experience in law enforcement. Foster is currently a Bristol Virginia Police Department Detective. He joined the department in 2000 as a patrol officer, years later becoming a senior gang investigator and serving in a capacity of roles until landing in his current position.

“I’ve always run as an independent as a school board member, where I can take the best of both worlds and I can pull Republicans and Democrats together and be Bristolians because that’s the common goal that we’re working for,” said Foster.

Foster is also a certified crisis negotiator and serves as a part of the U.S. Marshals regional task force team and also holds a position on the school board.

The Jail Issue

Both candidates said they have goals if elected, but they both share concerns about the fate of the jail, which would be a major challenge for whoever is elected if the jail becomes part of the regional jail authority.

Both Thomas and Foster told News Channel 11 keeping people employed is their top priority.

“I think if we can keep the jail, we can try and bring some of those ideas to fruition. If not and the jail goes away, we still need people protecting the city,” said Thomas.

Foster also shares the same sentiments and said “My biggest concern is the actual personnel that’s there. I’m going to do everything I can to advocate for them to keep their positions here in Bristol and if not, I’ll try and find something to compensate them.”

The candidates are using these final days of campaigning to rally those undecided voters and convince them they are the right man for the job.

“I believe in giving 100% to everything that I do, and this is no different. I want to make Bristol a better place, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do, and it’s a big reason why I’m running for Sheriff,” said Thomas.

“I want to see the future and be the difference in the City of Bristol. This is the city that I love. I grew up here, I’m invested in here, and I’m not going anywhere else and this is my home, and I want this to be a home for many other people,” said Foster.

Early in-person voting ends October 30 and election day is November 2.

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