Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva accepted defeat in his pursuit for a second four-year term in the top law enforcement spot to Robert Luna on Tuesday.
Villanueva, who had a reputation for defying police defunders and vaccine mandates, conceded to his opponent during a press conference where he faulted the county for its negotiation methodology before thanking his staff.
Whenever there was an executive meeting where decisions were made, he said, they would decide what the right thing to do was, and then figure out how to make it happen.
“You can negotiate on practices, but you can’t negotiate on principles,” Villanueva said. “I realize the political environment here in LA has it exactly opposite, but that’s the way it should be.”
The now former sheriff also had a message for the media, thanking them for their patience and encouraging them to continue to speak the truth and be the voice of democracy.
“You can’t survive if all you can do is pair it with the political narrative of the establishment,” he said. “That is democracy in decline. So, get back to reporting everything, both sides, passionately, and then we’ll be better off because of it.”
The LA County Registrar-Recorder website posted live results from the election, and as of Tuesday, Luna had received 60 percent of the vote and Villanueva had 40 percent.
There was also an amendment to the County charter that voters approved with 70.6 percent of the vote. The amendment gives the County Board of Supervisors the authority to remove an elected sheriff from office for cause, including a violation of the law, neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds, willful falsification of documents, or obstructing an investigation, by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors.
Shortly after Villanueva conceded, Luna turned to Twitter to make a statement.
“Thank you, L.A. County,” he said. “I’m deeply honored and humbled that you have elected me as your next Sheriff. With your vote, you have entrusted me with a clear mandate to bring new leadership and accountability to the Sheriff’s Department. And that’s exactly what I will do.”
L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn congratulated Luna on Twitter, saying, “I stand ready to work with you.”
Over the next two weeks, Villanueva said, he plans to visit every department to thank them.
Each adversity he faced throughout his career, Villanueva said, propelled him to a bigger stage, audience, and voice.
With that voice, he wanted to send a message to those who believed he was defeated.
“Quite the opposite,” he said. “We’re walking out of here with our heads high. We accomplished the mission…we could have probably used four more years to solidify it, but we set a standard, a very high standard.”