In a stunning upset, former Lt. Alex Villanueva will become the next sheriff of Los Angeles County.
Villanueva leads current Sheriff Jim McDonnell by 125,878 votes, according to the latest vote count released on Tuesday. He becomes the first candidate to oust an incumbent sheriff in more than a century.
According to results released Monday by the County Registrar- Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, Villanueva leads McDonnell with 1,277,340 votes. McDonnell so far has only garnered 1,151,462 votes.
McDonnell conceded defeat on Monday.
“We are in the process of arranging an orderly transition and a series of briefings to assist the new administration and it is my hope that the sheriff-elect will come to his new position with an open mind. The honor of serving as the LA County sheriff is one like no other in law enforcement,” said McDonnell.
There are only about 100,000 provisional ballots left to be counted, according to the registrar’s office. Villanueva is expected to be sworn in next week.
Villanueva has vowed to kick federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents out of LA County jails.
Villanueva attended an event sponsored by the West Hollywood Democrats shortly after McDonnell called him to concede. During that appearance he talked about changes he planned to make in the department.
“We’re going to have a new command staff,” he said, according to KABC-Channel 7 News. “We’re going to have a whole new look of the department, physically. Come January, you’re going to see a whole new look for the sheriff’s department in terms of uniforms the deputies will use on patrol, Our recruitment efforts, you’re going to see how we’re going to change our course of action. We’re going to start recruiting locally instead of nationally.”
Villanueva retired from the department in February after more than 30 years on the job. He last worked as a watch commander at the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station, overseeing station deputies. He has never held a command position inside the department.
McDonnell, the former chief of Long Beach police and a 29-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was elected in a landslide four years ago, pledging reform in the wake of a jail abuse and corruption scandal that led to the conviction of dozens of deputies and some of the top brass, including former Sheriff Lee Baca and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.