By Aila Boyd

William Stowell, a graduate of James River High School, is running for sheriff of Botetourt County as an independent candidate.

William Stowell
Photo by Aila Boyd

After reviewing the policy proposals of the three other candidates, he said he made the decision to throw his hat into the ring.

“If they had a good idea between the three of them, I wouldn’t run,” he said.

He explained that he subscribes to the idea of meritocracy, which dictates that power should be awarded based on achievement and ability.

“The old system isn’t working,” he said. “It’s time for something new.”

Stowell explained that he’s doing his due diligence by reading crime reports, budget reports, governmental studies, and books that he thinks will be helpful for the campaign. He even has files on the other candidates.

“I’m approaching it the way an academic would,” he said of his campaign.

Stowell openly acknowledges that he’s somewhat of an outsider in the sheriff’s race. A former member of the Air Force and a military police officer, he struggled with alcoholism for many years—even receiving three DUIs.

The DUIs resulted in him becoming a felon and even landed him in jail. His rights were restored in 2017 by then Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Now, the strongest thing he drinks is coffee—something that he drinks a lot of.

“I’ve been through the legal system on both ends,” Stowell said, explaining why he feels he has a unique perspective to offer.

Speaking from his own experience, Stowell said that citizens who are currently incarcerated at the county jail “are no less a part of the community.”

As for his campaign strategy, he said that he plans to allow the three other candidates—Jeff Stritesky, Mike Vineyard, and Matt Ward—to “eat themselves” in the Republican primary, then beat whoever emerges victorious come November.

“Everything they’ve put out has been platitudes,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything sophisticated from the other guys. Everything I’ve heard from the other guys is so sophomoric—black and white.”

Stowell also asserted that the other candidates have a “very top down approach to criminal justice.”

“I’m an absolute purest when it comes to American liberty,” he added.

When reviewing their campaign positions, Stowell said that the Botetourt that the other candidates are talking about doesn’t exist anymore.

“I think Botetourt County has become a lot more sophisticated,” he said.

He went on to add he feels that the county is generally safe and that the most dangerous interaction one could have would be with a law enforcement officer.

Stowell specifically mentioned that he’s opposed to the idea of placing a resource officer in every school throughout the county, something that some of the GOP candidates have suggested.

“I don’t think law enforcement is a substitute for parenting,” he said. He added that having more deputies in the schools than on the roads would not be a good thing and that the safety of students is a security issue, not a law enforcement issue.

Although he doesn’t currently work in law enforcement, unlike the three other candidates, Stowell said that he doesn’t see that as a bad thing.

“If you spend too long in any system, you become blind to the world around you,” he said.

Aside from running for sheriff, Stowell keeps busy with his Fincastle-based ATM business and his YouTube channel “Fincastle Underground.”

He holds an associate’s degree from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College.

If he doesn’t win in November, Stowell said he’ll more than likely enter into a doctoral program.