Robert Luna elected LA sheriff, beating incumbent Villanueva

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Luna has been elected sheriff of Los Angeles County, soundly defeating the incumbent Alex Villanueva, who conceded defeat on Tuesday.

Villanueva consistently trailed as ballots from last week’s election were counted, and when The Associated Press called the race Luna had more than 60% of the vote.

Luna, the former police chief of Long Beach, California, said in a statement that he was “deeply honored and humbled” to be elected. He vowed to bring new leadership and accountability to the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, with nearly 10,000 sworn deputies.

“I look forward to working with the talented and courageous sworn and professional staff of the Sheriff’s Department who are dedicated to keeping our communities safe,” Luna said.

Villanueva, who served one term, gave a rambling and at times emotional concession speech during which he blamed his loss on the county’s “weaponized political machine.”

Villanueva’s term was marred by clashes with members of the LA County Board of Supervisors and allegations that he downplayed allegations that ganglike groups of deputies ran amok within the department. He blamed the controversies on “false narratives” by his political opponents.

The outgoing sheriff listed a number of what he called major accomplishments, including managing the county’s jail system during the COVID-19 pandemic, humanely addressing the homelessness crisis and overhauling the department’s body-worn camera program.

“I want to wish the incoming sheriff well,” Villanueva said. “The safety of the community depends on him succeeding.”

Luna will be sworn in as the county’s 34th sheriff in a ceremony next month.