Dayna Kendrick Bobbitt is unopposed in her bid for the Patrick County Commonwealth’s Attorney position in a special election.
Bobbitt was appointed the interim Commonwealth’s Attorney in May by Stephanie Vipperman, who was selected to serve as a judge. As a result, Bobbitt was required to seek the post in a special election in November to fulfill the remainder of Vipperman’s term. Bobbitt will seek the standard four-year term in the regular 2023 election cycle.
Bobbitt, 31, said she’s seeking election because she feels her six years’ experience as a prosecutor combined with the lessons she learned from Vipperman, prepared her for the post.
“I think I have some really good ideas that I can bring to the table in this office and make Patrick County a safer place to work and raise our families,” Bobbitt said.
As her five-month tenure in the position began, Bobbitt said she immediately faced the problem of her office being short-staffed with only two attorneys.
“My number one goal was to get back up to three attorneys,” Bobbitt said.
Ria Farley, a recent law school graduate, was sworn in as an attorney by Judge Marcus Brinks on Oct. 17 to fill the vacancy.
“Now that we have that third attorney we should be moving along swimmingly moving forward,” Bobbitt said. But “that’s still not fully staffed. We’re funded for four attorneys, but we’ve never been able to hire for that fourth position.”
Bobbitt also wanted her transition into the new position to be as smooth as possible for the office.
“I was lucky to inherit an office that was a well-oiled machine. I was able to step into the new role and not have to fix things so to speak,” she said.
Bobbitt said the goals she wishes to accomplish in the position can be summarized by the acronym “VOICE.”
For the V, Bobbitt said she plans to have a Victim-centered approach and talk with victims about the cases and make sure they are informed about their cases.
The O in her acronym stands for Obtain justice for the vulnerable. Enacted by her predecessor, Bobbitt said the Child Abuse Review Team meets monthly to review every child abuse, sexual assault case in the county.
It “is a multi-disciplinary team made up of the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, the Department of Social Services (DSS), Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, Victim Witness — which is housed in my office, and also Southside Survivor Response Center, and other community partners so that we can come together and have a collaborative response to these cases,” she said.
Bobbitt wants to create an Elder Abuse Review Team because she believes the elderly are among the most vulnerable to “physical abuse and neglect or financial abuse. We’ve seen a rise in financial crimes towards the elderly, and so one of my big goals,” she said.
The I in VOICE is for Incarceration of violent offenders.
“I think those are the most serious offenses we see. We’re lucky in Patrick County, it’s a very safe area, but we do have violent offenses that occur, and I will continue to seek prison time, jail time, and incarceration for these violent offenders,” she said.
For C, she plans to Combat the drug and opioid epidemic. Bobbitt said she will seek jail time for drug dealers who are “pumping these drugs out into our community and getting people addicted.”
She also hopes that some sort of drug rehabilitation or treatment program is created for first low level offenders who are truly addicted to drugs. She is interested in expanding the 21st Judicial District Drug Court into the county or creating an individual one here.
“In the 21st Judicial District, which includes Patrick County, Henry County, and Martinsville, there is a drug court for rehabilitation for people who are truly addicted and have substance abuse disorders,” she said, adding the court is housed in Henry County and has only 10 spots available.
“Patrick County’s numbers were used to create this drug court, but as you can imagine with only 10 spots and many of our people have transportation issues, they’re not able to take advantage of that program,” she said.
Bobbitt has already begun discussions with Foresight Hospital and Health Systems leaders about a potential role in the expansion.
The E in her acronym stands for Enhance the safety and well-being of the community.
“My ultimate goal as a Patrick Countian, born and raised, is to ensure that our community is safe,” she said.
While her office is restricted by law as to what can be made public, Bobbitt believes it has been as transparent as it can.
“I think that’s evident by our open file policy that my predecessor began when she took office back in 2008. That’s what I learned, and what I continue to abide by,” she said.
Defense attorneys and offenders who request information are able to access the necessary files.
“Whenever a community member calls, I’m as transparent as possible if I can be and give them as much information as I can. If I can’t, I let them know why I can’t divulge that information,” she said, adding that she’s always happy to listen to community input.
“I love hearing what community members see as issues in our community and bringing them to my attention because maybe it’s something that I never thought of before,” she said.
As part of her victim-centered approach, Bobbitt said community members who are victims of crimes absolutely have a say in what happens in their cases. This is primarily done through the office’s Victim Witness department, which “reaches out to the victim to let them know for example, after someone’s arrested generally, they get scheduled or a bond hearing.
“We always reach out to say ‘what would you like to see happen with bond? Would you like to see bond, certain conditions placed on this person, would you like no contact,’ and those are always things every prosecutor in this office takes into consideration,” she said.
A Woolwine native, Bobbitt and her husband, Will, live in the Peters Creek District with their two-year-old son, Anderson.
Bobbitt graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She graduated from the University of South Carolina’s law school in 2016, where she focused on children’s law and education law.
Bobbitt previously interned in the prosecutor’s office in Patrick County and the Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney office. She clerked under retired Circuit Court Judge Martin Clark, and held a clerkship in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia, S.C.
In her free time, Bobbitt enjoys spending time with her family and traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway.