California primary

Here Are the Candidates for LA County Sheriff

Sheriff Alex Villanueva faces eight challenges in the June 7 California primary election.

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One of the marquee races of the 2022 election is the contest for Los Angeles County Sheriff, the largest in the country. Eight candidates are vying to unseat incumbent LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in the upcoming June 7 primary election.

Six are current or former veterans of the Sheriff's Department. One is a retired Long Beach police chief and the other is a state parole agent.

Below are the candidates' bios and video appearances on NBC4's NewsConference:

Alex Villanueva, Incumbent Sheriff

The race for LA County Sheriff is destined to receive national attention. NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who this time will not have the endorsement of the LA County Democratic Party. We ask him about that, his fights with the Board of Supervisors, and his deputies getting vaccinated.

Villanueva, a retired Sheriff's lieutenant, is the 33rd Sheriff of LA County. In 2018, he was the first person in 100 years to defeat an incumbent, Sheriff Jim McDonnell. During his tenure, Villanueva has declared war on the County Board of Supervisors and the Civilian Oversight Commission, which has challenged the sheriff over several issues including deputy shootings, the arrest of a local reporter covering a protest and an alleged gang within the department. He's also been criticized for not mandating COVID vaccines for his deputies. He says he's accomplished everything he campaigned on - on body worn cameras for deputies, on removing agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the jails, a moratorium on transfers of inmates to ICE custody. He says the department is the most diverse in the country now. "The Good 'Ol Boy Network is gone," he told NBC4's Conan Nolan. He says the county has seen progress with illegal marijuana farms and homelessness in Venice, Brentwood, Olvera Street, and Topanga Canyon.

Karla Carranza, LASD Sergeant

Carranza is a sergeant at the Sheriff's Department working the Twin Towers jail. According to the LA Times, she says she pledges to work to up staffing shortages at certain jail facilities and would address fentanyl overdoses among inmates. Growing up with a mother who fled war-torn El Salvador, she told The Times, she didn't trust law enforcement but now sees the good that policing can do, "a conviction that was strengthened after the murder of one of her brothers in San Fernando Valley in 2009.'

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Robert Luna, Retired Long Beach Police Chief

2022 is an election year, and the race for Los Angeles County Sheriff is one to watch. NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with three candidates who want to replace controversial current sheriff Alex Villanueva. First up, Robert Luna, who until a few days ago was the police chief in Long Beach.

Luna, the former police chief in Long Beach, said bringing the crime spike under control is a big priority. He said working to build relationships with residents and business owners on how deputies are addressing crimes is important. He said that law enforcers need to go back to a sensible way of doing business by putting the right people in jail and making sure repeat offenders are held accountable. He said the public needs to have a sheriff who communicates and works well with others. He says, if elected, he'd build relationships with the Board of Supervisors and other government leaders and residents, something he says is not happening now. He says deputy gangs are unacceptable, they have to be rooted out and the culture has to change. "If we have to bring in the DOJ at the state or fed level, we need to do that," he said. He said a sheriff can't be afraid of being under scrutiny. "Anybody should be able to see what we're doing."

Cecil Rhambo, Retired LASD Assistant Sheriff

2022 is an election year, and the race for Los Angeles County Sheriff is one to watch. NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with Cecil Rhambo, a former sheriff’s official and current LAX Chief of Police, and candidate for Los Angeles County Sheriff.

Rhambo is the chief of police at LAX. He is a former commanding officer in Compton. He has been a public official in LA County and city over 45 years, 33 of them in the Sheriff's Department, where he's held every rank and worked in various assignments. He has been an assistant city manager in Carson and has been the city manager in Compton. He says the current Sheriff is acrimonious and is not a collaborative leader. "If you elected me, you don't have to subpoena me to go before an oversight commission or work with the inspector general," he said.

Matt Rodriguez, Retired LASD Captain

One of the marquee races of the 2022 election is the race for LA County Sheriff. Incumbent sheriff Alex Villanueva faces several challengers, including retired sheriff’s captain Matt Rodriguez. The 32 year veteran of law enforcement spent 25 years with the Sheriff’s Department.

Rodriguez is a 32-year veteran of law enforcement and spent 25 years with the Sheriff's Department. He recently served as interim police chief in the city of Santa Paula and the director of public safety for Metrolink. He is a former friend of Villanueva and worked alongside the Sheriff beginning in 1998, but did not support Villanueva for Sheriff in the last election, saying he was not qualified. He says, if elected, he would put into place a policy of treating everyone with respect and empathy, he'd free up deputies to get to the core of police work and work with county leaders to properly fund the Sheriff's Department.

April Saucedo Hood, State Parole Agent

Hood has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement, working as a police officer, school resource officer, investigator and Parole Agent. She has worked with police oversight and conducted criminal and administrative investigations into employee misconduct. She says she will work with the community to reduce crime and says being an expert in rehabilitation for the formerly incarcerated population gives her a unique perspective in helping the community. She says she supports body worn cameras, audits and requiring body worn cameras for deputies working in the county jails. She says she supports rehabilitative programs, creating a unit of reserve deputies who work with therapy dogs to assist people with trauma, increasing the Sheriff's deputies reserve program, creating a pilot program of plainclothes deputies assigned to the mental health evaluation teams to improve de-escalation efforts. She says she also supports ensuring field deputies know where to provide families with resources to get help for substance abuse treatment.

Britta Steinbrenner, Retired LASD Captain

NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with Britta Steinbrenner, a candidate for Los Angeles County Sheriff in 2022 and LASD captain who says it’s time to break up what she calls the “good old boy” network at the Hall of Justice.

Steinbrenner heads the county services wing of LA County Sheriff's Department made up of 450 employees. She says she believes she can improve the sheriff's department after it has lost its direction, its leadership and vision. "Our department is broken," she said. "I want to be that change agent." She wants to work closer with the community to better serve the residents, wants to create a community where everybody feels safe and there's a sense of belonging and where there's no discrimination. She would tackle the rising crime rate by putting together task forces, saturation patrols in high-crime areas while working closely with other agencies. She would hope to break the department's favoritism and nepotism. She hopes to become the first female LA County Sheriff. "I think it's time for change."

Eric Strong, LASD Lieutenant

NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with LASD Lt. Eric Strong, a candidate for LA County Sheriff. He has been in law enforcement for 30 years, 21 of those with the sheriff's department.

Strong has spent 21 out of his 30 years in law enforcement at the sheriff's department. He's worked in patrol, courts, custody, training, youth programs, investigations, Internal Affairs, risk management, and auditing. Strong, a founding member of Police Against Racism that works to root racism out of law enforcement, says on his campaign website that, if he's elected, he'd work to rid the department of a "culture that has allowed deputy gangs to fester." He says has heard and seen racially motivated allegations, disciplinary decisions, actions taken against personnel and promotions. He says he work to build respect, dignity, and compassion for contacts in the streets and housed in jails. "That right there will set the tone, lead to organic change," he says. He wants to change the culture and mindset of the department and change promotional process. "We need leaders in the Sheriff's Department that are going to feel comfortable speaking out and speaking up."

Eli Vera, Retired LASD Commander

The race for sheriff of Los Angeles County will be one of the most interesting races in the 2022 election season. Sheriff Alex Villanueva is running for re-election, but there are a number of candidates running to replace him. NBC4’s Conan Nolan speaks with LASD Commander Eli Vera, who has been with the LASD for 33 years.

Vera has been with the sheriff's department for 33 years. He recently was the chief of the technology and support division. He was in the news claiming he was demoted by the sheriff after he announced he was running for the job. It's not the first time, Vera said, that a sitting chief has challenged an incumbent. But, he said, it is the first time steps have been to demote that individual. Vera advised Villanueva for sheriff in 2018 and spoke highly of his ability to be sheriff. But, he says, unfortunately within days of being elected "we saw a very different Alex Villanueva." He said he'd change that. "We need a unifier, not a divider."

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