Welcome to Brunswick County

Constitutional Officers/Elected Officials

Thomas Jefferson believed deeply that government works best when it is close to the people and ultimately responsible to them through the ballot box. In Virginia, the public elects not just its local, state, and federal representatives but also its constitutional officers, so named because their offices are specifically established by the Constitution of Virginia. This system dates back to the earliest days of the nation and is based on the presumption that the most important services of government should be made directly accountable to the citizens by popular vote.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court serves an eight year term. All other officers serve four year terms.

Constitution of Virginia (1971) 

County and city officers. - There shall be elected by the qualified voters of each county and city a treasurer, a sheriff, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a clerk, who shall be clerk of the court in the office of which deeds are recorded, and a commissioner of revenue. The duties and compensation of such officers shall be prescribed by general law or special act.

The General Assembly may provide for county or city officers or methods of their selection, including permission for two or more units of government to share the officers required by this section, without regard to the provisions of this section, either (1) by general law to become effective in any county or city when submitted to the qualified voters thereof in an election held for such purpose and approved by a majority of those voting thereon in each such county or city, or (2) by special act upon the request, made after such an election, of each county or city affected. No such law shall reduce the term of any person holding an office at the time the election is held. A county or city not required to have or to elect such officers prior to the effective date of this Constitution shall not be so required by this section.

The General Assembly may provide by general law or special act for additional officers and for the terms of their office. 

Clerk of the Circuit Court
The office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court dates from 1619. From those early days until the present, the Clerk's duties have changed significantly, but the office remains vitally important to the residents of each county and city.
The Code of Virginia lists over 800 separate responsibilities for the Clerk, many of which are highly complex and challenging. The Clerk serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal court cases. In this latter capacity, the Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes.

Circuit Court Clerks in Virginia perform duties that in many states are divided among three or four separate offices. In keeping with tradition, therefore, Virginia has saved its citizens significant tax dollars by combining judicial and administrative functions into a single office.

Commissioner of the Revenue
Commissioners of the Revenue are the chief tax assessing officers in Virginia's cities and counties. They administer the assessments for businesses and individuals in the following areas:

  • Real estate taxes (in some cities and large suburban counties, assessors handle this function)
  • Personal property taxes
  • Business license fees
  • Consumer utility taxes
  • Machinery and tools taxes
  • Merchants capital taxes
  • Special taxes on meals, lodging and cigarettes

Commissioners also spend considerable time working on state income taxes, helping citizens complete their returns and performing initial processing prior to delivery of the forms to the State Department of Taxation.

Commonwealth's Attorney

The Commonwealth's Attorney represents the people of Virginia in prosecuting criminal cases. The position is similar to that of the "District Attorney" in many other states. The Commonwealth's Attorney, elected by the people to a four year term, typically appoints one or more assistants to handle cases under his or her supervision.

All Commonwealth's Attorneys prosecute the most serious crimes, known as felonies, including murder, rape and robbery. In many jurisdictions, they also prosecute misdemeanors and violations of local ordinances, including traffic offenses.

In the largest counties and cities, Commonwealth's Attorneys serve as full-time prosecutors. In some smaller localities, they are paid a part-time salary and may maintain a private practice.

Commonwealth's Attorneys have numerous other duties and responsibilities as set forth in the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Code.

The office of Sheriff began in colonial times and has continued as an important part of local government throughout Virginia's history. Initially, the Sheriff was not only the chief law enforcement officer, but also the election supervisor and tax collector. Today, the Sheriff's responsibilities cover a range of public safety functions that vary from locality to locality.
In most counties, sheriffs provide all law enforcement services, including investigating crimes, pursuing offenders and making arrests. (In cities and large suburban counties, police departments handle these functions.)

Sheriffs maintain local jails, housing from a handful to hundreds of offenders awaiting trial or serving short sentences, and by statute are represented on governing boards of all regional jails. The sheriff may also manage other local corrections programs and transport criminal defendants to and from corrections facilities.

All Virginia sheriffs provide security in local courthouses, serve legal papers throughout their jurisdictions, summon jurors and witnesses, and execute upon court judgments.

Sheriffs are assisted in their duties by deputy sheriffs, appointed by the principal officer.

Virginia's city and county Treasurers are the chief financial officers for their localities, collecting taxes and local fees, and making payments on behalf of the local government. The Treasurer is responsible for every form of revenue which comes to his or her locality including:

  • Real estate taxes
  • Personal property taxes
  • License taxes
  • Water and sewage charges
  • Permit fees
  • State income tax
  • Court, Sheriff and Clerk fees

Treasurers also manage the investment of local funds and maintain records of local finances.

The elected post of Treasurer was created in the Virginia Constitution of 1870. The Treasurer's independent status as an elected official ensures that local funds will be collected, invested and spent by an officer who reports directly to the people.