Lunsford to challenge Camblos

For the first time in two elections, Albemarle Commonwealth's attorney Jim Camblos, a Republican, may have competition on the ballot, if he decides to run for reelection in November.

At noon, in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse, defense attorney Denise Lunsford, a Democrat and mother of three children, officially tossed her hat into the ring, revealing that she has personally dealt with a violent crime and promising she "never avoided tough cases or tough issues." She called many of the crime issues facing our community "nonpartisan."

Lunsford and her opponent have been in the spotlight plenty recently. Last month, Lunsford lost a capital murder case, and Camblos has alternately won fame and opprobrium for his handling of such cases as the Bentivar cat shooting and the so-called school bomb plot.
In keeping with her low-key political approach, Lunsford opted to have a member of the opposing party do her introduction.

"I'm putting all politics aside in favor of advocating for the most qualified attorney," said fellow attorney Kelly Hobbs, who describes herself as a Republican. Retired Albemarle Police Detective Donald Barrs described the high regard in which many police officers hold Lunsford: "Her reputation has always been excellent," he said, admitting he and other officers sometimes wished Lunsford had been on their side in the courtroom.

Lunsford, backed by a crowd of approximately two dozen supporters, promised to bring "experience, hard work, and leadership" to the position and shared her own first-hand horror. "My father was killed many, many years ago," she said. "Victims need to have a voice. I can be the voice for them."

Camblos, who has yet to officially announce whether he will seek reelection, declines comment on Lunsford. "I have a very good office of five attorneys with a combined total of 81 years of prosecutorial experience," he says. "I have tried to do the job firmly, aggressively, and fairly for all the citizens of Albemarle County for the last 15 years. I look forward to getting that message out to the voters of the county during this election."

The challenge to his job comes on the heels of the contentious Albemarle Circuit Court judge selection process, in which Camblos was passed over for defense attorney Cheryl Higgins. Lunsford supporters see the choice of Higgins as a positive sign for this election. "We learned through the public response to the judgeship vacancy that Jim is vulnerable to a challenge even within his own party," says attorney Steve Rosenfield. "It's very exciting to have somebody of Denise's qualifications and character come forward to seek the position of Commonwealth's Attorney."