The Sheriff is one of the most powerful elected officials in the county and state. Yet, most voters don’t pay close attention to the candidates or simply skip the box on the ballot.

The sheriff has the power to:

  • Run the county jail system.
  • Use alternatives to incarceration.
  • Minimize crime by providing opportunities for rehabilitation.
  • Influence state policy.
  • Listen and respond to the community.

You have the power to select, endorse, and vote for a sheriff candidate that speaks to you and your community’s values. With involvement from voters, community organizations, opinion leaders and the media, we can check the immense powers that we put in the hands of sheriffs.

Learn more about the 2018 sheriff elections in Los Angeles and Orange County.


L.A. voters, we have a sheriff runoff!

In June, we went to the polls and voted for many electeds, including the LA Sheriff.

The sheriff holds a tremendous amount of power with responsibilities such as:

  • providing patrol services for 153 unincorporated communities and 42 cities;
  • courthouse security for the Superior Court of LA; and
  • housing and transportation of 17,000 people who are incarcerated in its jail system, which is the largest in the country.

We have two candidates who are racing to become the next sherif: incumbent Jim McDonnell and candidate Alex Villanueva.

L.A. voters, it is up to YOU to decide who YOU think is the right sheriff for Los Angeles County. Get ready to go to the polls again in November!

The upcoming Elect Your Sheriff forums a great opportunity for the L.A. community to come meet and listen to the candidates. These forums are sponsored by ACLU SoCal, LA Progressive, Justice Not Jails, LA Regional Reentry Partnership, Dignity and Power Now, Youth Justice Coalition.

  • Stay tuned — follow us on Facebook & Twitter for the latest information about events!

September 15, 2018
After having confirmed his attendance at our Elect Your Sheriff Forum on Sept. 15, LA County Sheriff and incumbent McDonnell canceled at the last minute. Candidate Alex Villanueva attended the forum. KPCC's Frank Stoltze moderated the discussion. ACLU SoCal and coalition partners have sent McDonnell a letter urging him to appear. See video of the Sept. 15 community forum on our Facebook page.

L.A. Sheriff Candidate Biographies

Mr. McDonnell did not provide a photo, bio, or website.

Alex Villanueva
"Villanueva has over 30 years experience with the LASD and was founding president of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Professional Association. A recognized reformer in the organization, Villanueva led the drive to ban smoking in the jail system and fought against corruption within the Baca administration. A military veteran, Villanueva holds a Doctorate in Public Administration and is a published author and educator in the field of criminal justice."


L.A. Sheriff Candidate Responses

Click to read the candidates' positions on a variety of social justice and civil liberties issues.



The race for Sheriff-Coroner in Orange County is headed to the first run-off in 40 years after voters turned out in record numbers for the primary election.

The OC Sheriff-Coroner is responsible for:

  • Operating the 5th biggest jail in the country;
  • Managing the Sheriff’s Department budget which accounts for approximately 20% of the county’s general fund;
  • Overseeing the five county jail facilities where 5,900 to 6,100 people are incarcerated at any point in time;
  • Providing patrol services to all unincorporated areas of the county and to 17 independent entities, including 13 cities; and
  • Providing courthouse security for all superior courts in OC.

The OC Sheriff-Coroner is also responsible for inquiring into and determining the manner of all violent, sudden and unusual deaths in the county, including officer-involved shootings and in-custody related deaths. Coroners have the final say on determining whether a person’s death is an accident, a homicide, a suicide, a result of natural causes or undetermined.

We have two candidates who are running to become the next Sheriff-Coroner in OC: Don Barnes, undersheriff for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and Duke Nguyen, investigator for the LA District Attorney’s Office.

Stay informed

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