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Plowman Begins Planning for New Office

James "Jim" Plowman (R) plans to improve performance, professional relations in Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

James "Jim" Plowman (R) now wakes up with the thought, "I don’t have to campaign today."

For six months, the South Riding resident knocked on doors, attended civic club meetings and community events, and spoke at forums and debates to talk about his message and vision for the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.

"It almost feels like there’s a void," Plowman said. "You lived it every minute for six months. Election Day was like Christmas morning, but you didn’t know what you were getting."

What Plowman got was 56 percent of the vote to become the county’s next Commonwealth Attorney, a seat held by Robert "Bob" Anderson since 1996. Plowman, who will serve a four-year term from 2004-07, has already begun preparations for taking office in January. Once there, he plans to improve the office’s performance and the relationship it has with law enforcement agencies, part of his campaigning message. "I believed from day one that we had a good message and we had good issues," he said.

PLOWMAN PLANS to meet with the 11 attorneys in the office to evaluate them individually and to find out their future plans. He plans to work with a deputy attorney during the transition process and to review pending cases for the next year, since he will be tasked with managing the office and staff and handling the prosecution of criminal cases.

"Bob was gracious and said he’d be cooperative," said Plowman, who served as an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney from 1998 to 2001 and currently is employed at Allstate Insurance Company’s Staff Counsel’s Office to try civil cases.

"I intend to be fully involved. I enjoy prosecution too much and want to be part of it," Plowman said about sitting on some of the trial cases handled by the office. "If people who are working for you can see if you’re in the trenches with them, they’ll respect you more for it."

At the same time, working in the courtroom will give Plowman a better understanding of the jobs of the deputy and assistant Commonwealth Attorneys. "As an attorney, it helps keep you sharp. You don’t want to lose the edge," he said. "The place you stay sharp is in the courtroom."

"Jim Plowman is an experienced prosecutor with a record of being tough on crime. He will put his skills to work to create a powerful deterrent to criminals and thereby take a lead role in making Loudoun County a safer place," said Andrew Gupta, communications director for the Loudoun County Republican Committee.

PLOWMAN PLANS to meet with the command staff of police and sheriff’s agencies in Loudoun to improve the relationship his office has with their offices, he said. He hopes to conduct the meetings before he takes office to hear their concerns and complaints, along with anything that already is positive, to open up the lines of communication.

"The county can’t afford to have these agencies at odds with each other. They already are," Plowman said. "I want to get to the heart of [the problem] and hammer it out. … The voters already took care of part of it."

During his campaigning, Plowman talked with command staff down to the patrol officers to hear out their concerns and "war stories," as he said. "The attitude and approach toward the law enforcement will have to change, and it will change," he said. "I get along great with Sheriff [Stephen] Simpson. I think the first step was made."

In some ways, the campaigning is not over for Plowman. He believes it still is important for him to be involved in the community, to hear out the concerns and to be available. "Being involved in the community is critical in any elected position," he said.

As for Anderson, "He should get credit for servicing the county for eight strong years … and he should be commended for that. I was happy it never once got ugly or personal," Plowman said.