Villanueva voted out after one term as county sheriff

I+Voted+stickers+are+given+out+to+those+who+vote+in+the+2022+California+general+election+inside+the+Premier+America+Credit+Union+Arena+at+CSUN+on+Monday%2C+Nov.+7%2C+2022%2C+in+Northridge%2C+Calif.+Nov.+8+marks+the+2022+California+general+election+that+includes+federal%2C+statewide+and+judicial+candidates%2C+as+well+as+ballot+propositions%2C+local+candidates+and+measures.

William Franco Espinosa

“I Voted” stickers are given out to those who vote in the 2022 California general election inside the Premier America Credit Union Arena at CSUN on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. Nov. 8 marks the 2022 California general election that includes federal, statewide and judicial candidates, as well as ballot propositions, local candidates and measures.

Pablo Orihuela, News Editor

Former Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna won the election for Los Angeles county sheriff against incumbent Alex Villanueva. The result comes after Villanueva conceded defeat in a long-winded press conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 15.

Luna, who received 61.26% of the roughly two million votes cast, will be sworn in as Los Angeles County sheriff next month. He posted a statement through his social media shortly after Villanueva’s press conference, thanking his supporters for the election victory.

“Thank you, L.A. County! I’m deeply honored and humbled that you have elected me as your next Sheriff,” Luna said in his statement. “With your vote, you have entrusted me with a clear mandate to bring new leadership and accountability to the Sheriff’s Department.”

The outgoing sheriff highlighted the importance of the job he will be handing over to Luna in a few short weeks.

“I want to wish the incoming sheriff well,” Villanueva said in his press conference. “I want him to succeed for a simple reason. The safety of the community depends on him succeeding. The welfare of every single person on the department depends on him succeeding.”

Villanueva began the nearly hour-long press conference by championing what he felt were the accomplishments of the sheriff’s department under his tenure. He then accused city groups, local politicians, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and members of the press — most notably the Los Angeles Times — of forming a collective “narrative” to counter his reelection, based on what he thought was a bias against him and his department.

The outgoing sheriff has been repeatedly criticized over his handling of the department, as well as its lack of transparency, by local politicians and the press.

Examples include then-Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra launching a civil rights investigation against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in 2021 to learn whether or not the department was “engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing;” claims that Villanueva was involved in the covering up of a deputy putting his knee on the head on an inmate, first reported by the Los Angeles Times in April; and allegations from multiple news groups throughout his four-year tenure that the department was enabling the existence of deputy gangs within the department.

His defense against the Board of Supervisors stems mostly from Measure A — a county measure that will grant the board the ability to initiate the process of removing a sheriff for just cause — appearing on this election’s ballot. Measure A easily passed with over 70% of the vote, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

Villanueva said that he believes the measure to be unconstitutional, and that it is an attempt by the Board of Supervisors to overextend its power over the sheriff’s department.

“[Measure A] was designed to want to bring people to the polls, people who don’t like law enforcement in general,” Villanueva said. “But that’s just part of weaponizing all the resources of county government against the sheriff’s department.”

Villanueva would later say that he felt the Board of Supervisors was acting out against law enforcement in general, actions he claimed are counter to public interest.

“People need to embrace the idea that county government is ill, and they are not acting in the behest of the public,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva also expressed disappointment with what he saw as Los Angeles’ “deep-blue” Democratic Party aligning itself with local progressives, a group that he feels are “anti-law enforcement.”

The sheriff did not announce a concession during his press conference until he was asked directly by a reporter during the Q&A session, after which he explicitly declared an end to his reelection campaign.

“We’re conceding,” Villanueva said. “Unless God intervenes and does a miracle with the remaining ballots, we don’t see it’s going to change.”

Villanueva’s final day in office will be Friday, Dec. 2.