After almost three years pursuing criminal cases against defendants in Amherst and Bedford counties, Timothy Griffin wants the job of top prosecutor for the city of Lynchburg.
Griffin, 32, a resident of Lynchburg and an active player in area Republican politics, is seeking the GOP nod to run for commonwealth’s attorney.
Griffin jumped into the race shortly after incumbent Michael Doucette said last week he would not run for re-election but instead leave office after his term expires Dec. 31.
Doucette has served as Lynchburg commonwealth’s attorney for 11 years.
The news was a sudden opening for Griffin, who issued a news release within 12 hours of Doucette’s, saying for months Griffin had been “setting the stage to challenge the status quo” in the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Griffin, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Bedford County, told The News & Advance this week he wants to tamp down crime rates and make Lynchburg a safer place through several initiatives he plans to unveil this year.
He would not say directly whether he had intended to challenge Doucette had the incumbent sought re-election. But Griffin made clear he thought it was time for new leadership in the office, which prosecutes all alleged criminal offenses in the city.
Griffin said it requires a concerted effort among area prosecutors, the Lynchburg Police Department, social services and other entities to reduce crime rates effectively.
“There’s a lot of actors. Everyone is working so hard,” he said. “I think we can bring something to the commonwealth attorney’s office.”
Griffin, a Liberty University graduate, attended Appalachian School of Law and served in criminal law for two years before becoming a prosecutor.
In May 2014, he was named an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Amherst County; the following year, he took his current post in Bedford County.
While saying Lynchburg crime rates must be reduced, Griffin credited the efforts of police under their current leadership with new initiatives aimed at reducing crime.
“I think LPD’s doing a phenomenal job,” he said. Griffin in particular lauded the community policing initiative Police Chief Raul Diaz has spearheaded.
“I really appreciate the chief’s vision for where he wants to take the city in that manner,” Griffin said.
In the week since announcing, Griffin has picked up two key endorsements in GOP circles. Rep. Tom Garrett, R-5th District,threw his support behind Griffin on Thursday, and Virgil Goode, former Republican congressman for the same district, endorsed him a few days before. The 5th District covers part of Lynchburg.
Griffin joined both the current and former congressmen on the campaign trail stumping for Republicans last year.
Garrett said in a news release that after working first-hand with Griffin on the congressional race, “I have full confidence in his ability to represent the people well and uphold the laws and Constitutional principles of our great Commonwealth.”
Griffin was the first candidate to make an announcement regarding Doucette’s seat.
Throwing his hat in the ring set him up for a possible electoral competition with Chuck Felmlee, chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg. Felmlee, for the past 11 years the second in command of the prosecutor’s office, indicated last week he intended to run. He had not formally entered the race as of Thursday afternoon.
It also remains unclear who else may enter the race, with the election still nine months away. Republicans hold a primary June 13, and Griffin is seeking their nomination. Griffin said the local GOP committee will decide the method of nominations.