Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva conceded Tuesday to former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, who comes with a long list of Democratic establishment endorsements.
Villanueva formally admitted defeat during a press conference at the Hall of Justice near downtown L.A. after the latest election results from the county registrar’s office showed with more than 1.2 million ballots counted, his opponent won with just over 60% of the vote from county residents.
“I want to wish the incoming sheriff well,” Villanueva said during a news conference. “The safety of the community depends on him succeeding. The welfare of every single person in the department depends on him succeeding.”
Villanueva spent the greater portion of his press conference unraveling false narratives created about his administration by the political establishment and legacy media outlets, which failed to accurately report or clear up propaganda spread about the sheriff’s department.
The sheriff also blamed his loss over the media’s coverage of so-called deputy gangs, or “cliques,” within the law enforcement department that allegedly encouraged violence against residents, jail inmates, and even fellow deputies who challenged them. Villanueva has repeatedly denied allegations of having any ties with the groups.
“All of this, the whole thing on the deputy gangs, was literally a campaign strategy,” Villanueva said. “My four years in office, I can tell you this all four years, we achieved something very important because if you treat the county government like it is — a corrupt criminal enterprise — we pushed back and opened the window into the corruption of the county.”
Los Angeles County supervisors and Villanueva clashed on several issues during his term, who backed efforts to defund the department.
During the pandemic, Villanueva refused to comply with vaccine mandates, exposed the homeless industrial complex, and other allegations of corruption and fraud rotting within the board of supervisors.
Villanueva again slammed the media for the lack of accountability on the local government.
“We need you to be the voice of democracy that will survive,” Villanueva said. “You can’t survive if all you do is parrot the political narrative of the establishment — that is a democracy in decline.”
Los Angeles residents also approved with 70% voting in favor of ballot Measure A, which gives the county’s Board of Supervisors the power to fire a sitting sheriff.
The new measure puts the incoming sheriff at the mercy of the board.
Luna, who headed the Long Beach police for seven years before retiring last year and a former Republican turned Democrat in 2020, thanked Los Angeles County voters for his victory and offered “best wishes” to his opponent in a statement.
“I’m deeply honored and humbled that you have elected me as your next sheriff,” Luna wrote. “With your vote, you have entrusted me with a clear mandate to bring new leadership and accountability to the Sheriff’s Department,” which is the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, with nearly 10,000 sworn deputies.
— Robert Luna (@lunaforsheriff) November 15, 2022
However, Villanueva claimed Luna has called his administration “chaos and dysfunctional,” filled with “scandals” run by “a rogue sheriff.”
Luna ran his campaign on promises to reform and modernize the sheriff’s departments and jails while claiming to reduce crime, address homelessness, and restore so-called public trust in the County Sheriff’s Office.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Jeff Katzenberg, a co-founder of DreamWorks and a longtime Democratic donor, contributed at least half a million dollars to a campaign committee supporting Luna.
Villanueva denounced “the arrogance of the select few — the billionaire crowd, in particular — who may know how to make movies, but they don’t know how to run law enforcement organizations,” adding that such crowds are willing to wipe out the leadership to better suit their ideology.
“The Democratic Party is now married to the progressive movement in L.A.,” Villanueva said. “And how that plays out on a national level — I don’t know. But here locally, I can say it is a very anti-Latino coalition — it is anti-law enforcement.”