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Alex Villanueva new sheriff in town

Villanueva is the first Democratic Sheriff of L.A. County in 138 years, the first to unseat an incumbent in more than 100 years and the first to speak fluent Spanish. Alex Villanueva topples Jim McDonnell for

Villanueva is the first Democratic Sheriff of L.A. County in 138 years, the first to unseat an incumbent in more than 100 years and the first to speak fluent Spanish.

Alex Villanueva topples Jim McDonnell for LA County Sheriff tallying 1.1 million votes for 51.3 percent

LOS ANGELES – Retired Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva is the new Los Angeles County Sheriff, toppling incumbent Jim McDonnell 51.3 percent to 48.6 in one of the closest races in county history.

The sheriff’s race, which has long favored incumbents and candidates supported by the outgoing sheriff, seesawed from the early hours of election night. At one point McDonnell’s 58 percent share of the vote seemed so dominant that at least one news agency earlier projected him the winner.

By the next morning, Villanueva, 55, surged ahead by a few thousand votes. Then on Friday, McDonnell made gains that put him only 335 votes behind.

“Obviously the trending continues to be in our favor, and we continue to be optimistic,” said Hilda Delgado, a spokeswoman for Villanueva, who earlier in the week said in a local daily newspaper she expected to be able to predict the race’s outcome by Friday.

Short of declaring victory, Villanueva said he would wait until his opponent conceded in the race, but the late tallies prompted the Compton Herald to declare Villanueva the victor, who was 57,810 votes ahead of McDonnell as late as Friday.

McDonnell, a former Long Beach police chief who came into office in 2014 after former Sheriff Lee Baca retired, said earlier this week he would not concede the race until the final vote count is certified on Nov. 30.

What very much sounded like a victory speech, however, Villanueva did say, “The era of cronyism and corruption and all those things that have been brewing for 20 years unchecked will be finally addressed,” he said with his wife by his side. “We will have a whole new era where the community and the organization will come together as one and provide public safety for everyone.”

Villanueva is the first Democratic Sheriff of L.A. County in 138 years, the first to unseat an incumbent in more than 100 years and the first to speak fluent Spanish.

Villanueva was most supported in heavily Latino areas of the county, and also dominated in areas that McDonnell had carried in the primary, including Santa Monica, Mid-City and Mid-Wilshire.

Villanueva positioned himself as the more progressive choice, a Democrat who has called for alternatives to incarceration and said he would kick U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents out of the county jails.

The U.S. Air Force veteran who served three decades in the Sheriff’s Department drew an unlikely coalition of liberal activists, labor groups and the union representing rank-and-file deputies, with most of the money supporting him coming through well-funded outside groups.

 

 

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

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