Chapman passes prosecutorial torch to Platania

Joe Platania, left, gets Dave Chapman's endorsement for city commonwealth's attorney.
Staff photo Joe Platania, left, gets Dave Chapman’s endorsement for city commonwealth’s attorney. Staff photo

Charlottesville’s legal community turned out today for Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania’s official announcement that he wants the job of his boss, Dave Chapman, who will not be seeking a seventh term.

Chapman introduced and endorsed Platania, whom he hired in the city prosecutor’s office in 2003. “It’s important to me who’s the next commonwealth’s attorney,” said Chapman, and that person should be able to “look on the face” of a lengthy murder trial and “not have knees knocking.”

The commonwealth’s attorney should be able to “walk down the mall without fear, even when you’re near people you’ve put in jail and who call you by your first name,” said Chapman.

Platania, who worked in the public defender’s office when he came to Charlottesville in 1999, stressed prosecutorial discretion. “This community demands more from its prosecutors than simply jailing those who commit crimes,” he said.

Joe Platania. Staff photo

“I will strive to keep the community safe while prosecuting those who commit crimes fairly,” said Platania.

The position requires experience, integrity and innovation, along with a “common-sense perspective,” he added.

City Space was packed with Platania supporters, despite another big Dem event taking place 45 minutes later: Tom Perriello’s announcement he was running for the party’s nomination for governor. Among those present for Platania were former Albemarle commonwealth’s attorney Denise Lunsford, county clerk Jon Zug and city clerk Llezelle Dugger, city Sheriff James Brown, Mayor Mike Signer, Councilor Kathy Galvin and former city Republican chair Buddy Weber.

“I’m going to support Joe,” said Weber. “I think he’s the best and that’s why I’m here.”