A 25-year veteran of the Roanoke Sheriff’s Office is launching his candidacy to run for the top job.
Lee Hill, who retired in October as a lieutenant overseeing the agency’s jail services division, is the first to announce a bid for the office that will be on the November ballot.
“I’ve spent half my life with the sheriff’s office, and I still feel I have a lot left to give to the office,” he said.
“I love my job and giving back to my community. making sure everyone is safe, and trying to help them get back on the right path.”
Hill, 50, is a Roanoke native who’s worked in every part of the agency that is responsible for the city jail, courthouse security and civil document service.
The sheriff oversees a staff of 207 and an inmate population that can run around 600 people on an average day.
The fall election will have no incumbent in the running as Sheriff Tim Allen retired in January. Chief Deputy David Bell is now serving in an interim role but doesn’t plan to seek election.
Hill’s campaign has shared an endorsement statement from Allen. Hill plans to run for the Democratic nomination in the race.
In an interview, Hill said he hoped to continue building on the work being done to strengthen support services for inmates leaving custody and to keep mental health services robust.
He said he considers helping inmates and giving them the best start possible when they re-enter society to be a major part of the office’s work.
A rehabilitation, rather than a punitive, mindset helps individuals and pays long-term dividends for a community by reducing recidivism, he said.
“They’re just people who’ve made mistakes,” Hill said. “... My goal is to get everybody back on the right path.”
Hill also included boosting recruitment and retention among his goals. The sheriff’s office, like other law enforcement agencies, has faced some higher vacancy rates in recent years, he said.
Full staffing would allow for things like restoring the option of a work detail program for inmates, he said. That initiative, which requires supervision by sheriff’s deputies, had to be suspended due to manpower shortages.
Hill, who’s married with three children, plans to hold a formal campaign kickoff at noon Saturday at The Galleria on Williamson Road. Space will be limited due to covid precautions, and distancing and masks will be required.
Election Day is Nov. 2. The sheriff serves a four-year term and is currently paid about $136,965 per year.
Other local offices that will be on the ballot in Roanoke include the commonwealth’s attorney, commissioner of the revenue and treasurer.