"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers

of society but the people themselves."

Thomas Jefferson (1820)









Virginia’s five local elected constitutional officers – sheriffs, clerks of the circuit court, Commonwealth’s attorneys, commissioners of the revenue and treasurers – date to colonial days, when the sheriff served the royally-appointed Governor of the colony and exercised broad responsibility for tasks from law and order, to administering elections, to collecting taxes.  Direct election of these officers by the people of Virginia’s counties and cities evolved following American independence, with the offices of commissioner of the revenue and treasurer the last to become directly elected through changes introduced in the Constitution of 1870.

 

Today, Virginia’s more than 625 directly-elected constitutional officers are responsible for core functions of government, including law enforcement, investigation and prosecution of crime, local corrections, operation of the courts of record, maintenance of public records, and administration of both state and local taxes.  More than 15,000 deputies serve the public through these offices, bringing government services to Virginia’s citizens in their hometowns. 

 

Each of the five constitutional offices maintains a statewide association through which professional education, customer service, policy development and other initiatives are pursued.  VALECO was organized in 1976 to serve as the “umbrella” organization representing Virginia’s constitutional officers with respect to common interests that transcend any single office association – among them issues of office funding, compensation and benefits, employment authority, election and campaign finance law. VALECO is guided by an Executive Committee comprised of officers drawn from, and the Presidents of, each of the five office associations.  Through the years, VALECO has provided leadership on dozens of initiatives designed to enhance the quality of public service provided through these historic offices, which stand as a shining example of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of government that is close to the people.

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