LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva concedes to Robert Luna, wishes 'the incoming sheriff well'

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Robert Luna to become sheriff of LA County as Villanueva concedes
Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna will become the next sheriff of Los Angeles County, as incumbent Alex Villanueva has conceded his election loss.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva conceded the race one week after the election, wishing Robert Luna well as the former Long Beach police chief will succeed him as head of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Villanueva blamed his loss on what he described as a sweeping misinformation campaign and the use of "false narratives" focused on issues including alleged deputy gangs, his alleged resistance of oversight by the county and Civilian Oversight Commission and other allegations of internal harassment and retaliation against purported whistleblowers.

Villanueva has trailed Luna as results from last week's election continued to be tallied.

As of Tuesday's vote-counting update one week after the election, Luna had just over 1 million votes, for 60% of the total, to 693,000 for Villanueva, at 40%.

Luna managed to accomplish a rare feat by unseating a sitting sheriff. Villanueva's victory four years ago over incumbent Jim McDonnell marked the first time in roughly a century that a sheriff had lost a re-election bid in the county.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva conceded the election to former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.

The candidates ran a spirited campaign, with Luna attacking the incumbent over his torrid relationship with the county Board of Supervisors and accusing him of ignoring the issue of deputy gangs within the department.

Villanueva has deflected such criticism, saying his battles with the board show he is a fierce defender of the department and its deputies, and insisting that he has gone to great lengths to attack and ban alleged deputy cliques in the agency.

LA County Sheriff Election: Live Results

Villanueva's victory four years ago came with strong backing from reform-minded community groups and Democrats. But over the past four years, Villanueva's support among those groups has waned as he repeatedly clashed with the Democrat-dominated Board of Supervisors over funding and policy matters.

Villanueva has also repeatedly defied subpoenas to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission and refused to enforce the county's COVID-19 vaccination mandate among his deputies and department employees.

Villanueva's campaign insisted he has worked to restore public trust in the sheriff's department, pointing to the rollout of body-worn cameras and boosting minimum requirements for new deputies. The campaign also boasts the agency is "the most diverse in the nation."

Luna has argued during the campaign that the sheriff's department is being "mismanaged" by Villanueva and said he will work to restore trust in the agency. He also touted his position as an outsider with no connections to the sheriff's department.

Luna said he will work to "modernize" the sheriff's department and its jail system and improve the mental well-being of deputies and employees.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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