WINCHESTER — Interim Winchester Sheriff William Sales wants to keep the job for at least another year.

Sales on Saturday announced his campaign to be elected sheriff on the steps of the Joint Judicial Center in downtown Winchester. Joining him on a cold and blustery morning were about 60 supporters, including elected city officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

"People in need [includes] everybody — Republican, Democrat and people who don't even have a party — so that is why I'm going to run independent," Sales said.

Sales, 50, was named interim sheriff in September after Les Taylor, a Republican who had served as sheriff since Jan. 1, 2014, retired and moved to Stafford County.

"He stepped up to be the sheriff seven months ago and he's done a great job so far," said Taylor, who drove to Winchester Saturday morning to participate in Sales's campaign announcement. "He's going to continue doing a great job with your help keeping him in office."

The Winchester Sheriff's Office's primary responsibility is providing security at the Winchester-Frederick County Joint Judicial Center, but it also serves civil papers and subpoenas, transports inmates and people experiencing mental health crises, and assists neighboring jurisdictions when additional law enforcement is needed.

Sales spent 21 years with the Winchester Police Department before joining the city Sheriff's Office last March. His goal was to serve as master deputy for four years until he could retire with a total of 25 years of experience, but when Taylor announced his retirement and recommended Sales as his interim successor, Sales said he could not pass up the opportunity. By accepting the appointment, he became the first Black sheriff in Winchester's history.

Since Sales is currently filling Taylor's unexpired four-year term, which does not end until Dec. 31, 2024, a special election for sheriff will be held on Nov. 7. A general election for a full four-year term as sheriff will follow on Nov. 5, 2024, and the winner will take office on Jan. 1, 2025.

Saturday's campaign announcement began with Sales's stepfather, Pastor Alvin Walker of Love Hope Fellowship Church in Winchester, offering a prayer and thanking his stepson for standing up for the community.

"Lord, he's given his life to serve people," Walker said. "There's no greater love that a man has than to lay down his life for those of his neighbors."

"Every law enforcement [officer], man and woman, when they put on that badge every morning, they do not know if they will come home," noted retired entrepreneur Rick Brown of Winchester, who said Sales will be just as great a city sheriff as his three most immediate predecessors: Taylor; Lenny Millholland, who is now sheriff of Frederick County and was there Saturday to support Sales; and Keller Nichols, who died in 2014. "We do not know how many times they will save our lives or prevent the injury of our loved ones and people we don't even know."

"He's going to hire people who care about the community," Winchester School Board member Elyus Wallace said in praise of Sales, adding that all the men and women currently on the sheriff's staff are exceptional, compassionate people. "He is going to be about the community first — above politics and about the people."

"And on top of that, he's a pretty cool guy," Taylor added about his former master deputy.

"I want everybody to get out there and vote," Sales said before inviting everyone inside the downtown courthouse Saturday for doughnuts, coffee and some much-needed warmth.

This year's special election will be held as part of the general election on Nov. 7. So far, Sales is the only candidate for the remaining year of Taylor's term as Winchester sheriff.

To learn more about the election, how to register to vote and where to cast your ballot, visit the Winchester Office of Elections and Voter Registration at

— Contact Brian Brehm at

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