In Fairfax there’s a lot of political mudslinging going on regarding Fairfax County Sheriff Stan D. Barry’s involvement in a special retirement system. There’s a problem because some county officials say this is a problem because it was never intended to be used for elected officials.
Virginia state Delegate Timothy D. Hugo is the most recent Republican to comment on this ongoing and long-running issue. The Fairfax GOP has factored this into the upcoming November 8th general election Sheriff Barry, who is a Democrat, and Bill Cooper, the GOP opponent. Sheriff Barry has severed as county sheriff since 1999.
Two years ago Barry enrolled in the county’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP. The program allows a person [who works beyond their normal retirement date] to receive some of their benefits in a lump sum rather than earning additional years toward their service, and at over a three-year period a person is allowed to collect their money and retire.
The program sounds simple enough and it would seem that it would be an attractive venture. The problem stems from Barry using the system instead of career officials.
Tom Thayer, a returning citizen who lives in Fairfax County, believes he sees nothing wrong with Barry’s actions. “From what I know of it,” Thayer says, “its available for anyone who is a county employee. I don’t think Sheriff Barry is doing anything wrong.”
One Fairfax County resident disagrees. Glaydas Winfred, a Democrat who lives in Leesburg, agrees with Hugo. “Sheriff Barry is no spring chicken. That program is designed for younger people, and to give them a chance to retire early. He’s taking money away from other county employees who’s doing the hard work of keeping this county going.”
Republicans like Hugo are crying foul and says the sheriff is taking in upwards of $1 million from the county’s retirement coffers.
This issue is not settled as far as Delegate Hugo is concerned. He has recently announced that he intends to introdunce a bill in the State House which will stop elected officials from entering special retirement plans offered by the state and localities.
The county’s GOP has also set up a DropStanBarry.org website, and “Drop Stan Barry” yard signs.
William Lewis, a resident of Fairfax who supports Barry believes the GOP doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
“The real fact of the matter is, the GOP out here doesn’t really have any ammo to use against Barry,” he said. “Crime has gone down, quality of life has improved, and they can’t find anything better than this drop Stan thing. My family feels safe out here, so you can count on me to vote for him again and again and again. They’ve got to be kidding.”
Barry agrees with Lewis. He told The Washington Times, There’s no issue, so they had to create one. Quite candidly, it’s not just an exaggeration. It’s outright lies. They just keep perpetuating them.”
Lewis added, “I read where it says Sheriff Barry wouldn’t receive anything from his retirement thing until his term was over.” He went on to stress that Fairfax County is a good place to raise a family, and part of that success has to go to Sheriff Barry.