Arlington, VA

Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Theo Stamos:

By now, you know the issues in this election. Rather than rehash them, it is important for you to know who I am, my leadership in the legal community, why Arlington is so important to me, and why I deserve your vote for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

I am from the South Side of Chicago. After graduating from Northern Illinois University, I moved here to work in the Senate for a Democrat from Illinois, then worked full-time as a reporter while attending night school at American University Law School. In 1987, I started as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and have been proud to work for this community for over 30 years.

Soon after I started, I saw firsthand how Offender Aid and Restoration works closely with the courts, the jail, defense attorneys, prosecutors and the community to help offenders lead productive, responsible lives. I joined the Board to be a part of this important, collaborative work. Through OAR, I got involved with Encore Learning, becoming a member of its Advisory Council and a lecturer on criminal justice issues. Even back then, I was talking about criminal justice reform, educating our citizens on what our system looks like and how it can be improved. I am also a proud graduate of Leadership Arlington, cementing my firm belief that true leadership includes learning from those around you. My roots in this work are deep because I started so many years ago, forging relationships both within our legal system and the wider community.

The strength of these relationships is what fosters meaningful improvements of the criminal justice system.  Lasting change is done deliberatively, thoughtfully and most importantly, collaboratively. That’s why I am a member of the Steering Committee of Virginia’s Criminal Justice Conference, a statewide organization that brings together prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, legislators, and academics. We bring everyone to the table to work towards our common goal – a system that is fair and equitable for everyone. I helped create the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys Committee on Justice and Professionalism. Finally, I was honored to be inducted into the Virginia Law Foundation. That award only goes to attorneys who are leaders in both the legal profession and their communities who are “committed to the highest ideals of the law.”

My work is not only at both the local and state levels, but also on the national level. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence, focusing on improving criminal justice and on developing best practices in prosecution.

Legal ethics and professionalism are the cornerstone of our work. As a member of the Virginia State Bar’s professionalism faculty, I have taught young lawyers–and reminded old ones–that our most important assets are our credibility and our integrity. Two principles that should always guide us, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, are do the right thing, and always tell the truth.

While I worked in the office, I was raising my two boys with my husband, Craig. I had a bird’s eye view of the myriad ways lives can go off track with one poor decision. That motivated me to work with parents and young people to help them try to avoid dangers like substance abuse, and drunk driving. I became the Chair of the Family Network at both Swanson Middle School and Yorktown High School, providing a forum for these conversations. I convened a Town Hall to foster a dialogue between parents and our schools about the opioid crisis.

I am a proud Democrat and have been active in Democratic politics here for decades, knocking doors for other candidates, stuffing envelopes for Dollars for Democrats, and delivering the Messenger. I have always voted in general elections, Democratic primaries, and Democratic School Board caucuses.

My campaign is a grass roots campaign, run and funded here. I have spent many years earning the trust of our citizens through old fashioned hard work and heart. I love this community. I have worked to improve the criminal justice system so that it works for everyone – victims and defendants. I’ve lived my personal and professional life guided by principles of service to others, integrity, fairness, and equity.

This election is about Arlington, not any other community. No doubt that we have challenges and can do better. We are a criminal justice success story with much to be proud of, but with more work to do. I have the experience, the relationships and the integrity to continue that work. I ask for your vote on Election Day.

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