L.A. County Sheriff vows to represent constituents
By Kenneth Miller, Publisher
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alejandro “Alex’ Villanueva became the first candidate to defeat an incumbent sheriff in 100 years in 2018 when he unseated Jim McDonnell, becoming the 33rd Sheriff of Los Angeles County, and first Spanish-speaking sheriff in the county.
That was four years, but as the Nov. 8 general election looms Villanueva in embroiled in a bitter battle with retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna to remain Sheriff.
Born in 1963 in Chicago to a Polish mother and Puerto Rican father. When growing up, he also lived in New York City and Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1983, during which period he arrived in Southern California when stationed at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. After completing his Air Force enlistment, Villanueva was commissioned as an officer in the California Army National Guard. In 1986, he was sworn in as a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, launching a career that took him through into patrol at East Los Angeles Station, drill instructing at the Sheriff’s Academy, supervising at the women’s jail in Lynwood, and serving as a watch commander at Pico Rivera Station. It was at East Los Angeles Station where he met his wife, Vivian, who also went on to serve as a deputy sheriff. Villanueva retired from the department in 2018 at the rank of lieutenant, before his monumental defeat of his former boss.
His educational experience relates to that of many of the constituents he serves. He earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts from San Bernardino Valley College in 1986 and a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Northridge, and a Doctorate of Public Administration from University of La Verne.
Villanueva brings something to the table that his opponent Robert Luna does not and that is a wealth of experience in running the Sheriff Department, by contrast Luna entire 36 years
has been as Long Beach Chief of Police, a city of 491,564, far fewer than L.A. County.
However, his opponent has garnered a massive number of endorsements from who’s who of the political establishment.
“I think the political establishment has circled the wagon of my opponent,” proclaimed Villanueva.
He charges that that his boss is the community who voted for him and countered, “We (the Sheriff) don’t work for the (Los Angeles County) Board of Supervisors, with whom he has drawn their ire.
“We have to protect 10 million residents and we are dedicated to provide safety of the County.”
The Sheriff declared that when he was elected, his department was forced to operate at a $110 million deficit left by McDonnell.
He also contends that his $3.6 billion operating budget is short of the $3.8-3.9 required to adequately perform his duties.
The ratio of officers per constituent for the Sheriff is 0.9-1, while nationally the average is 2.5-1, New York Police Department is 4-1 and the Los Angeles Police Department is 2.2, according to Villanueva.
Moreover, he boasts of a diversified hierarchy that includes a Black as Division Director
Administrative Services Division in Conrad Meredith, a Black female as Chief Central Patrol Division in April Tardy, a Latino Chief Custody Services Div. – Specialized Prog. in Margarita Velazquez and an Asian Chief Technology and Support Division in Brian K. Yanagi.
If reelected he has pledge to be more robust in recruiting minorities from the communities he serves.
The Sheriff Department has 23 stations encompassing a large swatch of Los Angeles County including area communities such as Compton, Carson, but that number does not include smaller stations such as Lennox and Lawndale.
As the days grow closer to election date, candidates are digging up the dirt in a effort to sway voters, but Villanueva has managed to discover what could be a game changer.
The Sheriff has produced documentation that indicates that Luna has been a registered Republican. The official County Voter Registration Form revealed that Luna registered as a Republican on June 23, 1984 and 10 years later on July 10, 1984.
In the campaign for Sheriff, Luna alleges that he is a progressive Democrat.
“Luna will say or do anything to become Los Angeles County Sheriff,” said Villanueva.
With less than a month to the Nov. 8 election, the voters will have to final say on who becomes the next Sheriff.