It’s not a prank: Millholland will retire after 2013

Posted: April 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Lenny Millholland

WINCHESTER — On April Fools’ Day, Lenny Millholland said that it’s no joke: He’s retiring as the city’s sheriff at the end of the year.

Millholland, who has served as sheriff since 2002, announced Monday that he will not seek a fourth term in office and plans to retire at the end of the year.

The 55-year-old Democrat has been a fixture in local law enforcement for 34 years. He served in the Winchester Police Department for 22 years before winning election as sheriff in 2001, and he was unopposed in the past two elections.

“The only reason I’m stepping away is that I think there comes a point in time where you’ve done just about everything and you’ve come to the final chapter of this book, and when do you close it?” he said in a phone interview. “Do I run again? Do I want to go through the headache?”

In a press release announcing his plans, Millholland wrote that just before the medical issues began that led to his death, Mike Foreman told him he should “consider getting out while I still had my health and knew who I was.” Then, Treasurer Mark Garber announced last month that he was retiring for health reasons.

“It makes you stop and think for a while,” the sheriff wrote.

He said he’d been pondering his future for some time and basically made up his mind while in Florida in February for the Daytona 500.

“It was blowing snow [in Winchester],” he said, “and I was sitting at Daytona at the racetrack.”

Millholland said he finalized those plans and that he was making the announcement now to give potential candidates an opportunity to consider running. No one has announced plans to seek the office in the Nov. 5 election.

Both Suzanne Conrad and Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., the respective chairs of the city Democratic and Republican parties, said they will seek someone to represent their parties in the election and want interested candidates to contact them.

Starting off in Maryland

Millholland worked for two years in the Cumberland County, Md., Sheriff’s Office to start his career. He began working for the Winchester Police Department in December 1979 after answering a newspaper ad for a police officer.

In 2001, he was elected as sheriff to replace the retiring Keller Nichols. Steve Wheeler ran against him, but withdrew from the race about two weeks before Election Day.

When elected, Millholland was serving as a lieutenant in the Winchester Police Department and was second in command of its Criminal Investigation Division.

He’s known for his larger-than-life persona. Millholland seems as comfortable in an Easter Bunny costume at local events and as a celebrity salsa dancer for charity as he is in his uniform.

Conrad said she tried to talk him out of retiring.

“He’s going to really be missed in that job,” she said. “Everyone loves Lenny.”

Frederick County Sheriff Robert T. Williamson said Millholland’s “big personality” helped him in law enforcement.

“I tell people all the time that one of the best skills you can have in law enforcement is the ability to communicate with anyone,” he said. “Lenny’s ability to communicate always has been an asset. You can’t dislike Lenny.

“I think Lenny is the sheriff personified.”

Williamson said he and Millholland began working locally at about the same time, and he considers him one of his best friends. He said they always readily helped each other’s offices.

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher also said that Millholland has been an asset to his department in the 41/2 years he’s been the chief.

“We’re definitely going to miss him,” Sanzenbacher said. “He’s a great source of information, a great source of knowledge about things going on in the community, a great community guy.”

He said Millholland often passed tips he’d received to the city police.

Garber also worked with the sheriff at times on efforts to recover property because taxes had not been paid on them. He called Millholland and his deputies “very helpful, very professional. ... Lenny was always good and always there.”

Correll also lauded the retiring sheriff, saying the city’s Republicans “want to try to select the best candidate to represent Winchester in the Sheriff’s Office to continue Lenny’s excellent tradition.”

Still a labor of love

Millholland said he still loves his job, and he “couldn’t ask for any better group of people” than the 23 sworn deputies and three support staff members he oversees.

Winchester’s sheriff is responsible for security at the Joint Judicial Center (JJC) and warrant service within the city. However, his deputies handle myriad other law enforcement duties, too.

Millholland said that he’d like to think that during his tenure, he and his deputies did a good job of taking care of citizen needs while handling difficult chores, such as evicting citizens or handling tax liens or distress warrants.

“We had to do our job,” he said, “but we tried to do it with compassion.”

The sheriff said he’s also pleased with having made the JJC a safer place with the installation of metal detectors and X-ray machines. He talked the U.S. Marshal’s Service into donating an X-ray device that it had as surplus property to Winchester.

Williamson said he’s sad that Millholland is retiring but is glad about the circumstances.

“This is on Lenny’s terms,” he said, “and that’s the way it should be.”

Millholland said he thanks Winchester’s citizens for treating him well during his years in the city. He said he’s going to “chill for a little while, take care of some things that I want to take care of, maybe look around and see what’s out there, and get on my motorcycle and go for long ride.”

Millholland said he had no immediate plans for the future and would not rule out the prospect of one day returning to public office.

“Hence the reason I [announced my retirement] on April Fool’s Day, in case I change my mind,” he said. “I’ve had a good ride.”

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com