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Villanueva voted out as Angelenos seek reform

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

The incumbent sheriff conceded to former Long Beach chief of police Robert Luna.

By Kevin Khachatryan, Staff Writer

Sheriff Alex Villanueva conceded to running mate Robert Luna, who took 60.29 percent of the votes for sheriff of Los Angeles County.


Villanueva’s controversial tenure in the position led to the passage of Measure A, which gives the County Board of Supervisors the ability to impeach a sitting sheriff.


Luna led by more than 150,000, the day following the election. Villanueva’s odds of re-election were low in the lead up to Nov. 8, as data from a Berkeley IGS poll from August showed the former Long Beach police chief’s overwhelming support from democrats and undecided voters. Measure A, which gives the County Board of Supervisors the ability to impeach an incumbent sheriff, passed by an overwhelming margin.


Donald George, first year psychology major at Valley College, voted doubly for Villanueva’s referendum by supporting Luna and Measure A.


“If Alex Villanueva was at the top of the tree, then we impeach him, we cut off the top of the tree, it's going to grow back,” said George. “He is just the culmination of a problem that's probably been happening for a very long time. So if that's the truth, then we have to, first off, pat ourselves on the back for what we did on election day. But the work doesn't stop there. That's literally just the beginning. So we still have to do the work.”


Villanueva, whose incumbency as sheriff has been plagued with controversy, has been criticized for ignoring the issue of deputy gangs and excessive force within the department. Public outcry boiled over after he launched an investigation into a whistleblower who released a video showing a deputy kneeling on an inmate’s neck in a county courthouse.


The 59-year-old sheriff came into the position four years ago after the rare feat of ousting an incumbent sheriff, Jim McDonell. While Villanueva initially enjoyed strong backing from reform-minded community groups, his dithering responses to excessive force and repeated clashes with the County Board of Supervisors has built a large opposition movement against him.


Luna, the former Long Beach chief of police, ended his tenure with the department after 36 years and is now seeking to head up the largest sheriff department in the nation. Long Beach is the second largest municipal police force in the county. The retired sheriff argued during the campaign that Villanueva’s department is being “mismanaged” and said that he will work to restore trust in the agency.


The 55-year-old plans to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and bring more transparency to the department.


“We need accountability,” said Luna to the Press Telegram. Luna consistently used his strong relationship with the board as a positive factor and stated his intentions to make a difference in LA County.


“[Villanueva’s recusal] shows that the system can be better, and the younger generation can clean it up,” said James Avitia, a student in the Police Orientation Preparedness Program.



— With contributions from Isaac Dektor

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