Democrat, Republican and independent candidates looking to fill open Henrico sheriff position

Ronald E. Carrington | 10/31/2019, 6 p.m.

Three candidates are vying to become Henrico County’s next sheriff, succeeding longtime GOP Sheriff Mike Wade, who is stepping down after serving in the position since January 2000.

One candidate may have an inside track. Undersheriff Alisa A. Gregory, a Democrat and Richmond native who grew up Henrico County, started as a deputy in the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office in 1998 and has risen through the ranks to become the highest-ranking female in the Henrico Sheriff’s Office.

Col. Gregory, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Richmond, believes the key factor in progressive leadership is equal opportunity in recruitment, retention and succession management, especially with female and minority officers in roles of responsibility.

Col. Gregory, who has been endorsed by Sheriff Wade, has waged a campaign pledging to build on the successful programs started under Sheriff Wade. To help reduce recidivism, she said she would establish a Faith Advisory Commission to aid the re-entry of offenders into the community and to expand the Henrico Sheriff’s Office’s RISE and ORBIT drug rehab programs, Recovery in a Secure Environment and Opiate Recovery by Intensive Tracking, respectively.

In addition to working with partner agencies to try to reduce jail over-crowding, Col. Gregory said, if elected, she also would set up an advisory panel to help develop a comprehensive treatment plan to address the needs of female offenders, a growing segment in the jail.

Republican candidate Bob M. Matson, a Henrico Police detective, has served in the Henrico Division of Police since 2003, following seven years with the Albemarle County Police Department. The Virginia Military Institute graduate served in the Army, the Army Reserves and the Virginia Army National Guard. He also saw active duty in Iraq, where he earned the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge.

Mr. Matson’s top issue is the critical shortage of staff at the jail, which he calls “dangerous and expensive.” He plans to institute better training and retention standards and form a panel to determine the reasons why staff leave the Henrico Sheriff’s Office.

If elected, Mr. Matson said he would expand drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration to help address the opioid crisis and reduce jail crowding.

Independent candidate J.T. “Tom” Wadkins III, a former undersheriff with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, has worked in the past with former Richmond Sheriffs Andrew J. Winston, Michelle B. Mitchell and Clarence “C.T.” Woody Jr.

During his 10 years with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Wadkins was in charge of development of the computer systems for tracking all inmate-related issues, from bookings, records, court appearances, property, visitation and inmate accounts.

He was instrumental in obtaining two supplemental pay raises for deputies by working with the city’s administration and was actively involved in getting the city to pay all of the retirement contributions for all constitutional officers, including the sheriff.

Presently, Mr. Wadkins, who has a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, is president for operations and information technology for Vive Life Center.

Mr. Wadkins said, if elected, he plans to continue and enhance the RISE and ORBIT programs to help offenders overcome addiction and substance abuse. He also said he would turn over to the commonwealth many of the state inmates currently at Henrico Jails. He said that would reduce the county’s jail overcrowding by about 20 percent.