New law gives OC Sheriff and DA two additional years in office – Orange County Register

The sheriffs and prosecutors of Orange and Riverside counties, all of whom won re-election in June, will remain in office for two more years after a bill was signed that would postpone their elections to presidential years.

Barring recalls or resignations, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes and District Attorney Todd Spitzer, along with their Riverside County counterparts Sheriff Chad Bianco and District Attorney Mike Hestrin, are expected to serve at least until 2028; without the new law, everyone would have been in office by 2026.

Gov. Gavin Newsom late last month signed AB 759 deferring sheriff and district attorney elections in most California counties to presidential election years. The new law does not appear to affect San Bernardino or Los Angeles counties.

Molly Nichelson, spokeswoman for Orange County Counsel Leon Page, said in a text message Monday that local officials are “reviewing the bill and its impact on our sheriff and district attorney — we believe the bill extends their term — but no further comment.” at this point in time.”

Orange County’s two top law enforcement officers came on opposite sides of the bill, which its sponsor, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said would “promote political equality and increased civic participation in county elections” by changing the Changed dates to coincide with him when people vote on Presidents.

In a Sept. 13 letter to Newsom urging him to sign the law, Spitzer — a Republican who defeated three challengers in June by more than 62% of the vote — wrote that presidential years typically see more voters turning to the participate in primaries and parliamentary elections. and the sheriff’s and district attorney’s positions “exercise immense power.”

“Democracy is at its finest when our elected officials are selected in elections with the highest quotas and widest variety of turnout,” Spitzer wrote.

Izak Epstein, campaign manager for Orange County’s second-in-command district attorney, Pete Hardin, praised the impact he expects of the law. He said the move to presidential years is “a big deal” because progressive voters are more likely to go to those elections. (Hardin is a Democrat.)

The Hardin campaign was aware of the bill but unsure if it would pass and did not expect the possible extension of the prosecutor’s term to resonate with voters, Epstein said.

“District attorney elections, sheriff elections, sometimes they don’t get that much attention — but if I group them with presidential elections, I think that could have a pretty dramatic impact on how much attention these races get and what types of candidates get elected.” .” he said.

Barnes won re-election in the June primary with no opponents.

His position seemed more in line with that of Bianco and Hestrin, who were critical of what they described as an attempt to manipulate the election cycle to the Democrats’ advantage.

Despite benefiting from the bill, Barnes said he doesn’t like the motivation behind it. He added that eligible voters are free to vote in any election they choose, and nothing inherently makes it easier to cast a ballot in a presidential year.

“During these cycles, more Democrats are voting,” Barnes said. “It was politically motivated, it was built on no practical purpose other than to try to distort elections in the future.”

In response to comments on a Facebook post about the extra two years in office, Bianco wrote: “(O)our aloof far-left lawmakers are under the mistaken belief that the general public dislikes law enforcement any more than they do. They believe that by changing our elections to the presidential cycle, more Democrats (sic) will vote out vocal public safety advocates they cannot control.”

Hestrin, a Republican, said his supporters would be happy if he served an extra two years, but criticized the new law as “a rather cynical attempt” to delay the sheriff’s and prosecutor’s elections “to a time when.” the one party in power (Democrats) thinks it’s better for them.”

Turnout in presidential elections tends to be higher than in other years. The nationwide turnout for the June 7, 2022 primary was 33%, but for the March 2020 presidential primary, it was 47%.

The new law applies to so-called general law counties. 44 of California’s 58 counties, including Riverside County, fall into this category.

Orange County, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties are among California’s 14 charter counties. But Orange County has a bylaw that doesn’t specify when elections for district attorney or sheriff must be held. New law gives OC Sheriff and DA two additional years in office – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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