Octavia Johnson Enters Virginia Governor’s Race

Octavia Johnson Launches Campaign for Governor

Former Roanoke City sheriff Octavia Johnson, who served from 2006 to 2013, announced Thursday that she wants to be the Republican nominee for governor. Dogwood photo by Brian Carlton.

By Brian Carlton
March 4, 2021

Former Roanoke City sheriff says the state needs change so everyone can thrive.

ROANOKE-Octavia Johnson wants to see things change in Virginia. The best way to make that happen, she feels, is by serving as governor. The former Roanoke City sheriff launched her campaign Thursday, telling her audience the race needed a candidate who would get to work. 

“I am not happy in the direction our state has taken in the past four years,” Johnson said. “[I] find myself in the same predicament as at the sheriff’s office, when I realized that nothing was going to change. I did not mumble, grumble or complain. I decided to run for sheriff of Roanoke City.” 

When Johnson was elected in 2005, she became the first woman and first minority to serve in the position. Later she won re-election in 2009 before losing in the 2013 race. 

“In my eight years as sheriff, I made many needed changes that brought the sheriff’s office into the 21st century,” Johnson said Thursday. “It was an honor to serve as a Roanoke City sheriff, working with the citizens of the Roanoke Valley to make our city a safer and better place to live. I am running for governor of this great Commonwealth because there is a need for change. It is time for the whole state of Virginia to thrive.” 

Johnson’s last campaign came in 2014, when she ran against Democrat Sam Rasoul in the special election for the District 11 House of Delegates seat. She lost that race, collecting 29.6% of the vote to Rasoul’s 70.2%. If elected, Johnson said she would go in with a specific mandate. 

“I will be a governor for all people,” Johnson said. “Not any political party. Not of any political interest or self-interest.”  

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Octavia Johnson Enters a Crowded Field

Johnson joins a crowded field, as this is the largest number of candidates in Virginia’s history. 

Currently there are 16 candidates running to be governor of Virginia. On the Democratic side, that includes former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, current State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, current Del. Lee Carter and former governor Terry McAuliffe.

Johnson is a Republican and adds to a field including former Virginia Speaker Kirk Cox, current Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase,  former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin, former CEO for the Center for European Policy Analysis Peter Doran and current Disruptor Capital executive Pete Snyder. Former Deputy Assist. Secretary of Defense Sergio Del La Pena, former Army Ranger Kurt Santini and Merle Rutledge are also competing. 

Richmond business owner Brad Froman and Richmond community activist Princess Blanding are also running as independents.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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