Long Beach, News

Alex Villanueva concedes, Robert Luna to become next L.A. County Sheriff

Former Long Beach police chief and Long Beach State alumnus Robert Luna wins L.A. County Sheriff’s race after incumbent Alex Villanueva conceded on Tuesday.

Luna received a historically unprecedented share of the vote against his opponent, maintaining a lead of 20 points throughout tabulation.

Villanueva’s loss marks the second time in a row that an incumbent sheriff has lost their election in L.A. County, an event that has not occurred for over a hundred years.

Villanueva’s tenure as sheriff for the past four years was ripe with controversy. Despite his actions against deputy gangs at the beginning of his tenure, outside organizations concluded gangs continue to thrive within his department.

In 2021, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra initiated a civil rights investigation into LASD to determine if his deputies had engaged in widespread excessive force violations and unconstitutional policing. In early 2022, an unidentified LASD commander filed paperwork accusing Villanueva of obstruction in use of force investigations and whistleblower intimidation.

Sheriff-elect Luna focused his criticisms against Villanueva on his failure to meet the lofty progressive promises of his 2018 campaign. In an interview on Nov. 7, Luna told Spectrum News 1, “if I’m elected sheriff, there will be absolutely no tolerance for deputy gangs.”

Running as a progressive candidate in 2018, Villanueva had promised to bring accountability and transparency to the department. On his first day in office, he fired the captain of the East Los Angeles Sheriff Station alongside 22 other deputies, a precinct notorious for the “Banditos” deputy gang.

During his tenure, Villanueva implemented a body-worn camera system and removed immigration agents from LASD facilities, both promises made during the 2018 campaign trail.

Luna’s campaign supported social services and community engagement as long-term solutions to reducing crime. On the campaign trail, he called homelessness “the humanitarian crisis of our time” and expressed an intent to offer diversion programs to the unhoused.

As sheriff, Luna promises to prioritize repairing the reputation of the Los Angeles Sheriff Department, citing his experience with relationship-based policing at the Long Beach department.

Conservatives criticized Luna’s withdrawal of officers from riot zones as LBPD chief during the Black Lives Matter protests. Progressives have expressed doubt in Luna’s ability to reform the sheriff’s department, referencing his time as Long Beach Police Chief, a tenure that was plagued with accusations of corruption.

The sheriff-elect faces a bitterly divided electorate, many of which cast their votes, not for Luna, but against Alex Villanueva.

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