Sitting Down with Alex Villanueva

Alex Villanueva is a running candidate for Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Villanueva uncovered the corruption with in the department under Sheriff Baca. He visits Santa Monica College's Center of Media Design for an interview. Oct. 25, 2018. (Yasser Marte/Corsair Staff)

Alex Villanueva is a running candidate for Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Villanueva uncovered the corruption with in the department under Sheriff Baca. He visits Santa Monica College's Center of Media Design for an interview. Oct. 25, 2018. (Yasser Marte/Corsair Staff)

Alex Villanueva is the first Democrat in over 100 years to run for the position of the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, this coming midterm election on Tuesday, November 6. Villanueva isn’t a stranger to the position, as he has worked for the LA sheriff's department for 32 years, where he exposed the corruption under Sheriff Lee Baca and Deputy Sheriff Paul Tanaka. 

“I grew up literally, my entire adult life with the department, and towards the end of Lee Baca and then we had John Scott and now four years with Jim Mcdonnell. I realize he is not the man for the job. He is destroying this organization day by day,” said Villanueva. 

He sits with his hands gently clasped together over his lap and speaks forthright, sincere, and firm. He wears a casual wool gray sports coat, denim jeans, and black boots. Villanueva served in the United States Air Force and the California National Guard. He began his career with the department working a wide range of jobs beginning with the men’s county jails, patrol, academy instructor, sergeant, lieutenant, and much more. “My opponent never worked a jail in his life. I don’t even think he turned a key to let out an inmate. It’s one thing to be calling out the shots from the ivory tower but understanding the impact of those policies at the line level that’s where the difference is made,” said Villanueva. 

What made Villanueva want to run for the Sheriff of LA County was watching how current LA Sheriff Jim McDonnell has been running the department for four years. “I realized that he is not the man for the job. He is literally destroying this organization (LA County Sheriff’s Department) day by day,” said Villanueva. “No one supports [McDonnell’s] leadership, outside of the very select few that are at the top of the food chain… he doesn’t care about the organization.”

After explaining how the LA Sheriff’s Department works, which include being in charge of the LA County Jail system and court security services, Villanueva outlined what his first action would be if elected. “My platform has been reform, and continues to be, reform rebuild, and restore. The first component, reform, is the first thing I have to do,” said Villanueva. “Got to get rid of all the corrupt elements that are still there today, from back in the Lee Baca, Paul Tanaka years. Paul Tanaka’s foot soldiers are McDonnell’s command staff.” Lee Baca stepped down from the position of LA County Sheriff in 2014, which then led to McDonnell running and taking his seat.

Villanueva would also halt the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s communication and collaboration with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. “I’m going to physically kick ICE out of the county jail… they’re not going to set foot in there,” said Villanueva. “The only way they’ll ever enter, it’ll be just like any other police department, is with a judicial warrant signed by a judge, which is the way you’re supposed to do it.”

Under the current California ‘Sanctuary State’ law, otherwise known as Senate Bill 54 (SB 54), local law enforcement officers are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Current Los Angeles Sheriff Jim McDonnell went against that law by allowing ICE into LA County jails. “Everything [McDonnell’s] done is in opposition to SB54. He’s undermined it in the county jails, he was caught lying about the degree of cooperation they had with ICE, where they were in the jail with their own office space, their own computer space, direct access to the county jail system,” said Villanueva. 

The politician who wrote SB 54 is Kevin De León, who is not only running to be the Senator of California, but also endorses Sheriff candidate Villanueva. “I was supporting what De Leon was doing. I did not like what McDonnell was doing, which was just instilling fear in the entire, you know, immigrant community… Everything [McDonnell] did to water down SB54 was the goal of the Trump Administration,” said Villanueva. 

The Democratic Party could make history if Villanueva wins the race on November 6, since the last time LA County had a democratic Sheriff was in 1880. “We’re going to make history on November 6… I’d love to have millennials come out in droves and support, cause there’s so much at stake. Not just the Sheriff’s race, it’s the whole issue on what we want the government to look like,” said Villanueva. “And if you don’t participate, the saying is, you get the government you deserve.”

LA County Sheriff candidate Alex Villanueva will be on California’s upcoming Midterm Election Ballot on Tuesday, November 6.