HOTSEAT- Which scene? Larry Claytor, CSI, tries again
Larry Claytor announces he's running for sheriff and almost immediately lands in the hot seat. Not because of the race– this is the third time he's run– and not because of his day job as the lead CSI guy for Albemarle police.
It's the usually under-the-radar Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad, of which Claytor is president, that caused a ruckus. Tucked into the fine print of the city budget presented last month was the fact that the Charlottesville Fire Department wants to go into the rescue business, but no one had thought to mention it beforehand to the 47-year-old volunteer organization.
Even before that controversy broke, "I still had enough on my plate," says Claytor. After several hastily called meetings led to nights with only four hours of sleep, and dealing at work with the recent school bomb hoax and the search for a local teenager, "I'm trying to find time to run a campaign," he says.
First, he has to nab the Democratic nomination at a May 14 mass meeting in a face-off with Albemarle Deputy Roger Craig.
"When I started running for sheriff, I was pointed toward the Republicans by the incumbent, Terry Hawkins," explains Claytor, "but I couldn't get the nomination." Four years ago, he ran as an independent against Republican Ed Robb.
"I said the sheriff should be nonpartisan," says Claytor. "I came up short."
This time he's seeking Democratic party backing. So now he has to answer questions about why, after running as a Republican and an independent, he thinks running this time as a Democrat will be the charm. He mentions his parents, factory workers at the DuPont plant in Waynesboro– and Democrats. "My mom should be proud," he smiles.
If Claytor makes it to the election, he's likely to face DNA database pioneer Chip Harding, who seeks the Republican nomination.
Hurricane Camille in 1969 influenced Claytor's career in public service. His uncle was on the Waynesboro rescue squad, and his mother was from the hard-hit village of Massies Mill. "I remember as a teen searching [for victims]," he says of the disaster that killed 124 people in Nelson County. "I believe that played a part in my getting into the rescue squad."
He was studying to be an architect at Virginia Tech– the first generation in his family to attend college– and took a long, hard look out the window. "I decided I didn't want to be inside everyday," he recalls.
Although his mom wasn't happy about his decision to quit, he left school and took a job with the University of Virginia police at age 20, and from there went to the Albemarle County police. Thirty-three years later, he's been a detective, a forensic expert, a shift commander, and the dive team leader.
"I've had a full career with no regrets," says Claytor. "It's time for a change." And being sheriff, he says, is "something I've always wanted to do."
Since running in 2003, Claytor finished college while working full time, earning a degree in organizational management development.
That could come in handy. He's just come from a meeting of an oversight committee to look at rescue for the region. "I'm cautiously optimistic," he says.
Why here? I grew up here, attended Albemarle County schools, and have lived and worked here all my life. I live in a beautiful part of western Albemarle and plan to stay.
What's worst about living here? If I had to pick any one thing, it would be the increased traffic.
Favorite hangout? Sal's Pizza in Crozet– you must try it!
Most overrated virtue? Meticulousness
People would be surprised to know: I went to Virginia Tech as an architecture major for two years.
What would you change about yourself? I'd relax and spend more time with family and friends.
Proudest accomplishment? Being recognized by my peers for my many years of volunteer community service work
People find most annoying about you: My snoring
Whom do you admire? Those with strong principles and the courage to stand up for what they believe
Favorite book? The Bible. I really do not read many other books, but when I do it's usually related to self help and management. I constantly read newspapers, magazine articles, training materials and updates, work manuals, and materials for the different organizations I belong to.
Subject that causes you to rant? Insensitive people
Biggest 21st-century thrill? Graduating from Bluefield College at age 48 and understanding computers
Biggest 21st-century creep out? Increased violence with more brutal and severe crime scenes. It's especially difficult when the victim is a child.
What do you drive? 2002 Ford F-150 pickup with camping and fishing accessories
In your car CD player right now: Nothing. I listen to a police radio all day, and I enjoy my quiet time.
Next journey? My son is getting married next month on the beach at Nags Head.
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? Skipping school (in the second grade)
Regret: No regrets, except getting caught by the truant officer in the second grade
Favorite comfort food: Steak and baked potato
Always in your refrigerator: Peanut butter and jelly
Must-see TV: Weather Channel during hurricane season
Favorite cartoon: I read several each day; Dilbert and Shoe are probably my favorites.
Describe a perfect day. Spending time in the woods or on the river with friends; no phones, no radios, and no contact with the real world.
Walter Mitty fantasy: Owning two vacation homes– one at the beach and one in the mountains for a quick getaway with a choice of hunting or fishing.
Who'd play you in the movie? Burt Reynolds. When I was younger and had a mustache, I would get teased and told I looked like Burt Reynolds. I didn't think so at the time since I have red hair.
Most embarrassing moment? Most recently, I fell down a hill while chasing a criminal.
Best advice you ever got? Always treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
Favorite bumper sticker? Claytor for Sheriff.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO