WINCHESTER — At 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland donned a borrowed cowboy hat and strode toward the stage of the Clarion Inn and Conference Center as chants of “Four more years!” resounded from the crowd of about 200 supporters.
The 62-year-old Millholland, who took office in 2016 and ran this year as an independent, had just won a second term after a decisive victory over Republican Allen Sibert, a Winchester Sheriff’s Office major and chief deputy. Millholland received 14,137 votes (57.4%) to Sibert’s 10,442 votes (42.4%), with all 22 precincts reporting.
The campaign was often ugly, with Sibert accusing Millholland of supporting “sanctuary cities” for immigrants here illegally, being soft on crime and overspending taxpayer dollars. Millholland supporters noted Sibert, now a chief deputy with the Winchester Sheriff’s Office, had been investigated by state police for using seized drugs for training props while he was a coordinator of the Northern Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force. Sibert was never charged with any wrongdoing.
Millholland referenced the accusations by Sibert and Sibert’s supporters without giving specifics.
“My mother always told me, ‘No matter how bad it gets, son, stay on the high road.’ And I said, ‘But mom, there’s some times when I just have got to go down and squish something and then go back up. And she said, ‘No, just stay on the high road,’” he said. “During this election, there were very, very, very many times when I was going to go down there and I did the best that I could to stay where I was.”
With about 50 deputies standing on the stage behind him, Millholland thanked them for risking their jobs by vocally supporting him. He defended his fiscal management, saying he purchased badly needed equipment and supplies that kept deputies and the public safe. He cited the purchase of the overdose antidote naloxone in February 2016 that has revived at least 179 revivals including a woman who was six months pregnant.
“If it wouldn’t be for these guys and those back there and everyone in this room, I don’t know what Frederick County would be like,” said Millholland, a Winchester police officer from 1979 to 2001 and Winchester City sheriff from 2002 through 2014. “And I don’t know what would’ve happened had today not turned out how it did and someone else would have been in this office.”
Sibert told The Star in a phone interview Tuesday night that Millholland was “a tough opponent,” but he said he congratulated him on his victory during a phone call. Despite the loss, Sibert praised the electoral process.
“I think we challenged him and he prevailed,” Sibert said. “The people have spoken. And that’s the main thing — that the process in our country is followed through and people have that right to choose who they want to choose. What makes our country unique is after you do that, you come back together. You follow, you help. You try to make sure that the person that was elected is successful. And that’s all we want to do, continue to move forward.”
Sibert said his team “ran as hard a campaign as we could” and that he was very appreciative of them.
“I’d like to thank everybody that supported us, our campaign,” Sibert said. “It was truly humbling the amount of people that came out, supported and took time out of their day to just help with the campaign and support us in any way that they could.”
Now that the election is over, Sibert said he will continue to serve the community and the Winchester Sheriff’s Office “for as long as the Sheriff will have me.”
Millholland will receive a salary of about $162,000.