Editors Note: This is one in a series of question and answer articles about local candidates running for office in the Nov. 5 election. The Northern Virginia Daily asked the candidates to answer three questions. The unedited responses from Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley are below.
How has your office helped to tackle the opioid abuse crisis?
The role of the prosecutor is to prosecute, so my role in the opioid epidemic is to be a deterrent to that behavior. In other words, my office holds the stick, not the carrot. The General Assembly criminalizes both the use and the distribution of narcotics, and I will continue to prosecute those charges as best I can with our present resources to discourage that opiate use, while being sensitive to the scourge of addiction and the toll it can take on families. I will continue to be open to programs that offer accountability as well as treatment for users, and harsh-consequences for dealers. However, I will evaluate every case to see if there is some reason for departure from the norms, within the boundaries of my obligation to exercise prosecutorial discretion.
Where do you feel your office could improve its efforts to prosecute criminal cases?
Our office is functioning with two attorneys less than mandated by state regulation, a 40% shortfall in attorney-power. My goal is to hire an experienced deputy prosecutor and a quality entry-level prosecutor to relieve some of the pressure on my hard-working staff, and make this office run smoother. Very soon, hopefully by early next year, I expect we will be 100% staffed, and operating at peak-efficiency again
What should the county and state do to help your office?
I am committed to minimizing the burden borne by Shenandoah County taxpayers for the cost of prosecuting its criminals. As such, I have asked for almost nothing in the way of additional state and local funding for this office, as compared to the surrounding counties, and other places around the Commonwealth. However, this commitment to fiscal discipline has created challenges, as we are forced to compete for quality prosecutors with other, better-funded, higher-paying localities. This imbalance has caused unwanted turnover, and, at present, our office is short staffed. If we struggle in attracting and keeping experienced prosecutors, the Board of Supervisors may need to address the issue. For now, we are overworked, but functioning smoothly.