At last night’s Stafford County NAACP Candidate Forum, the Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates were asked the following question: “Do you feel that Stafford needs cultural change in its’ judicial system and, if so, in what areas?”
I find it incredible that in over 20 years that the Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has only employed a single African American employee.
Tim Barbrow believes, and so do I, that “you cannot serve the community effectively unless your staff reflects the cultural diversity of the community.” If elected, he will “hire a more diverse staff that has ties to the local community.”
Eric Olsen’s response to the same question was far different. He goes on to say, “I’m having a hard time understanding how a question about cultural changes turns to issues of race. I can tell you that in my 22 years, when we have an opening, we hire the best qualified person.”
Huh, Eric?! He clearly doesn’t understand that the ability to effectively communicate and connect with witnesses and victims is essential to effective prosecution. How does one African American employed in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office over the last 20-years reflect the cultural diversity of Stafford County? It doesn’t!
It’s outrageous that Olsen would also suggest that there just weren’t any qualified African Americans who applied. “It’s an insult to suggest that during that 20 year period of time, in all of the vacancies that have occurred in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, there was only one qualified African American in 20 years,” said Barbrow.
We agree with Barbrow that this is absolutely “outrageous!” What would even be more “outrageous” is if Olsen won. We clearly need a new direction in Stafford County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. That new direction starts with Tim Barbrow.