Rahn Kersey is a man of many parts.
The Chesterfield native would like to add sheriff to his resume. That’s no small feat since incumbent Karl Leonard has been in the office for nearly six years after being appointed to the post in February 2014, then winning a special election in March of that year and a full four-year term in November 2015. Leonard was unopposed in both elections.
Kersey, 51, served 14 years in the Army, including time in Bosnia and Kosovo, was a Transportation Security Administration employee at Richmond International Airport, and worked 10 years with the state, including three with the Department of Corrections and seven with the Capitol Police, “retiring” last September. Currently, he’s working for the federal Department of Defense at the Defense Logistics Agency, 8000 Jefferson Davis Highway.
But he’s not just been in law enforcement. Kersey worked as a DJ, beginning at Fort Irwin, Calif., and continuing when he returned to Virginia. He owned a business — Anything, Anytime, Anywhere — and played various genres, including country, Latino and hip hop. “I’ve played in cow fields, car lots, dive bars and weddings,” he said.
Kersey has earned three degrees over the years: a bachelor of arts in sociology and social work from Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., a bachelor of science in criminal justice, homeland security and emergency management from Strayer University, and a master’s in public administration from Strayer.
The Fork Union Military Academy graduate said he believes he can make positive changes in the sheriff’s office and make it run better.
Some examples of things he’d like to change or improve include: increasing employees’ pay, which he said ranks 19 percent below the national average; having a more robust K-9 program; and putting sheriff’s deputies into the schools so that police officers can return to the streets.
Kersey would like to expand the K-9 program into area high schools, as necessary, to crack down on drugs. He’d also like to have a dog always available to help out the state police if they need it.
Leonard said the K-9 program was started last year and currently has one dog that is used for weapons and explosive detection. The sheriff’s office is trying to get a second dog for drug detection. “We are trying to maximize opportunities to get the canines for free,” Leonard said in an email. “Otherwise they generally cost about $20,000 just for the dog, and then you have to add in a lot of additional cost, so we’re trying to be very frugal about it to save taxpayer money.”
Kersey believes the public would be better served to have sheriff’s deputies working as school resource officers so that Chesterfield police officers can do other things.
He’d also like to see the Heroin Addiction and Recovery Program – which Leonard started in the jail in 2016 – privatized. “It’s not the right time or place to have that,” he said. “It needs to be outsourced. Let professionals take care of them.”
Kersey said he’s not asking the public for money. “I just want your vote. It’s time to get out of the cycle. It’s a good ol’ boy system,” he said, referring to Leonard’s appointment by former Sheriff Dennis Proffitt and other county officials who have retired and appointed their successors. “I can’t be bought … I’m an independent.”
Kersey and his wife, Melissa, have four children, Joshua, Jenny, Jaimee and Jacob.
For more information, go to kerseyforsheriff.com.