Clarence A. Robinson, a pastor in Northern Virginia for 32 years, has announced that he will run as an Independent candidate for Fairfax County sheriff in November's special election.
Robinson, a 63-year-old civil rights activist and former president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said he wants the job "simply because we have not had a black elected official" in the county.
He will face Democratic candidate Richard Singleton, who is also black, and Republican Carl Peed, who is white.
Peed was appointed interim sheriff by the Fairfax Circuit Court judges after the hasty exit in February of Sheriff M. Wayne Huggins, a Republican.
A special election was scheduled for Nov. 6 for the remaining year of Huggins's four-year term after the popular sheriff left to become director of the National Institute of Corrections.
Huggins left after serving for 10 years.
The sheriff is responsible for running the county's 589-bed jail, which routinely holds more than 1,000 inmates a night, and managing courthouse security.
Job duties also include administering a budget of more than $20 million and overseeing more than 400 deputies and support personnel.
"I consider myself a people person, and the will of the people will prevail," Robinson said. "If elected, I promise to run a sound facility in every aspect."
Though he does not have a criminal justice background, the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Arlington said he has "knowledge enough to surround myself with capable people."
Robinson, who has lived in McLean for 37 years and in the county all his life, said, "I have a feeling that this is my county." He and his wife, Winnie, have six children.
Robinson received a bachelor of theology degree from the National Bible College in Wichita, Kan. He is working on a bachelor's degree in religion and community service from Averett College in Danville, Va., and is active in several civic associations.
Robinson will face stiff competition for the sheriff's job, which pays more than $65,000 a year. Peed, 43, has been the county's chief deputy sheriff for 10 years; Singleton, 55, is a retired Army colonel with many years' experience running penal institutions.
But Robinson is undaunted. "It's a sense of mission for me," he said.