Four candidates are running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for the office of Alexandria sheriff, a job that includes operating the city jail, transporting prisoners, serving court papers and maintaining courtroom security.

Louis Armistead, who is not a candidate for the office, has been serving as acting sheriff since the retirement of former Sheriff Raymond E. Fogle last March after a special investigation uncovered expense account padding by some members of the sheriff's staff. Fogle's four-year term would have expired this year.

The candidates in the Democratic primary are:

Patrick J. Holland, 30, a real estate investment manager.

Although Holland had has no experience in law enforcement, he feels that he is better qualified than the other candidates.

Holland said if elected he will reorganize the sheriff's department, which currently consists of a staff of 58.

Theodore (Ted) Dodd, 41, a deputy sheriff for eight years until he was fired by Fogle.

Dodd said he is better qualified to become sheriff because he is aware of the problems in the city jail. "I may not have answers to all the problems, but I think I can eliminate 50 per cent of the problems immediately" if elected, he said.

He said he would press for more trainig programs for deputies and more delegation of authority.

The candidates in the Republican primary are:

Robert J. Sweeney, 46 who has served as an unpaid volunteer deputy sheriff on an on-call basis for four years.

Sweeney said his experience as a volunteer will enable him to run a more efficient sheriff's department. He is a member of the criminal justice advisory panel of the Northern Virginia Planning District.

Michael E. Norris, 28, an Alexandria police department sergent.

Norris said he thinks a remedial counseling program should be established for offenders and their families.

He said voters should elect him because of his eight years of police experience and his concern for people.