In Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorneys — known as district attorneys in other states — are elected for four-year terms and are in charge of prosecuting criminal and traffic offenses. Daniel Lee Rutherford is running unopposed for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Nelson County.
Rutherford is the incumbent. He first won the seat in a special election in 2016 where he defeated one opponent. He then ran unopposed for the position in the 2019 general election.
Rutherford is the only candidate certified by the Virginia Department of Elections, though voters can write in other candidates’ names if they choose.
Charlottesville Tomorrow designed a questionnaire based on over 200 responses we received to a voter survey. The candidate answered these questions by email.
Can you explain what the job of Commonwealth’s Attorney is and why you are running?
The Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecutes misdemeanor and felony cases for the County of Nelson and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, General District Court, and Circuit Court. A Commonwealth’s Attorney must also perform other duties and responsibilities as specified in the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Code.
I am running for reelection to my third term to continue vigorously prosecuting violent offenders and those who traffic pounds of dangerous drugs into Nelson County. Another goal, which we began working on in the spring of 2022, is to build upon the newly implemented drug court to serve those who are suffering with a drug addiction.
What are the biggest challenges facing the office?
The biggest challenge facing the office is dealing with some of the criminal law reforms in 2020 and 2021 that have been disastrous in protecting victims and holding violent offenders accountable.
What is your philosophy about prosecuting crimes?
I do not judge my success by the number of convictions. Instead, success is viewed in light of the crimes that are prevented and by the lives we help change. Every day I get to work alongside the best team of legal professionals around and it is because of their hard work that my office has been able to accomplish so many great achievements and secure justice for our citizens.
Do you have any certifications or qualifications for this position that you want voters to know about?
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2003 with a Bachelors of Arts (major in Foreign Affairs). I graduated from Regent University School of Law and earned my Juris Doctor in 2007. I commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves Component as a Judge Advocate in 2010, with a current rank of Major.
Recently I returned from a seven-month overseas mobilization where I supervised a team of Army Judge Advocates prosecuting matters arising from Southern Europe and the Horn of Africa.
More links related to the Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney
- Rutherford’s campaign contributions, from the Virginia Public Access Project
- Contributions Rutherford has made to other campaigns, from the Virginia Public Access Project
As you get ready to vote, here are some key dates and links from the Virginia Department of Elections:
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.
- Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
- Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
- Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
- Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
- Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.
Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.