back to top

Stovall Looks To Shift Gears This November

Independent Mike Stovall seeks the Sheriff's office in Roanoke County.

Mike Stovall has been a presence in education in Roanoke County Schools for over fifteen years as a member of the school board, serving as its chairman three times. This November, though, he aims to return to the field he started out in shortly after high school: law enforcement.

The Vinton resident is running as an independent for Roanoke County Sheriff in the upcoming November 2 election. Incumbent Sheriff Mike Winston, running as a Democrat, is his opponent. Winston took over for the retired Gerald Holt, with the former Sheriff then becoming a U.S. Marshall.

Stovall started out as a 911 dispatcher for the Vinton Police Department in 1982, before moving on to police officer and crime investigation positions. He had always envisioned being a detective,  ever since his days at William Byrd High School.

After moving on to private practice as an investigator in 1994, an opportunity in education  arose the next year when Roanoke County switched over to electing school board members, rather than appointing them. He ran in a three-person campaign for the Vinton district seat and has been a fixture on the board since. In addition to serving as School Board Chairman, Stovall has also owned Alert Driver Training in Vinton since 2007.

When asked why he wants to get back into the law enforcement arena after a 15 years absence, Stovall says that he would like to finish his professional career there,  “bring[ing in] new initiatives.” Among those are a more extensive inmate work program, where  Stovall says he would like to see petty crime inmates (such as those who don’t pay child support) out of jail , perhaps  mowing grassmedians or performing other work. He says that he differs on this from Winston,  who  according to Stovall, claimed in February that there was not enough manpower to execute such a program.

Other initiatives include restarting resource officer programs in  Roanoke County elementary schools, where the Sheriff’s Dept. would advise on awareness and safety issues. Stovall has a history of encouraging the placement of resource officers. His platform when he first ran for the School Board in 1995 included placing resource officers in middle schools.

Positioning himself as a fiscal conservative, Stovall says he would have a goal of “doing more with less” should he win the office: “I need to ask how I can as sheriff, make it so we aren’t a drain on the taxpayers.”

One action  he would take to cut costs includes running the inmate canteen at the Roanoke County jail, rather than outsourcing those services. This, Stovall says, would free up money to be used elsewhere, such as providing sheriff’s department employees with what he thinks would be an overdue raise.

Consolidation of some positions through attrition would be another approach to streamlining the budget. Stovall says that when an employee retires he would ask others if they would like to split the vacant position’s duties, with a suitable raise to compensate for the added work. He says that using this method as chairman of the Roanoke County School Board has allowed him to navigate schools through a tough funding climate  over the past few years, without the layoff of a single full-time employee.

Stovall also claims that running as an independent better benefits the people of Roanoke  County (the Republican candidate, Steve Turner, dropped out early in the race). “Being an independent candidate, I can sit down with everybody,” he says. “I’ve been bipartisan on the school board and that’s wise, because it allows the opportunity to just sit down and deal with people and their issues.”  Roanoke County School Board candidates do not run on a party line.

This approach falls in line with his management style says Stovall: ‘My key component is respect – and respecting everybody comes from  … trusting them.” That policy of trust may have been tested when Turner, a police lieutenant and former Stovall campaign insider, split off from his campaign to seek the GOP nomination for the sheriff position. Stovall had no further comment on Turner, who eventually dropped out of the running due to time and money issues,  other than to “wish him well in his career in law enforcement.”

When asked what the main difference is between he and Winston, Stovall says that it would be their concept about the role as sheriff: “[Winston] says that it’s a police job; I say that it’s a leadership job.”

Stovall is quick to note that serving as Sheriff would not separate him from working at the same level of intensity as his employees: “They’ll have all my support. I’ll work 3 to 11 … I’ll work ‘til midnight … I’ll serve papers with them.”

By Aaron Layman
[email protected]

Latest Articles


  1. Just to let people know, there will be alot coming out in the newspaper in the near future, stuff that the citizens do not know. Take my word for it and do not vote for Winston. If you want a great Sheriff Vote for Mike Stovall (oh and just to let you know the information is not going to be coming from me).The new visitation is kinda crazy, I wonder how much this is going to cost the tax payers.

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles