Alex Villanueva

Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Election Challenger Alex Villanueva Get More Endorsements

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Thursday, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys announced that its board of directors had voted to endorse incumbent Jim McDonnell in the race for Sheriff of Los Angeles County.

“Jim McDonnell is a respected partner and is helping keep Los Angeles County neighborhoods safe,” Michele Hanisee, President of the Association said in a statement that accompanied the announcement.

“We believe that Sheriff Jim McDonnell has the requisite experience, energy, and commitment to continue to lead one of the nation’s largest and most complicated law enforcement agencies through these particularly difficult times,” she added.

The ADDA represents just under 1,000 LA County Deputy District Attorneys.

The announcement came a week after McDonnell had received the endorsement of Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association or PPOA, the union representing the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s supervisors. As we reported earlier, the PPOA endorsement is expected to be accompanied by a healthy campaign contribution.

On Monday of this week, McDonnell’s energetic challenger, Alex Villanueva, received an endorsement from the LA County Federation of Labor, which represents 300 LA unions, and approximately 800,000 union members. The County Fed puts out its own voter guild.  How much its members will follow its individual endorsements is not clear. But, in general, when the organization’s leadership decides it wants to go beyond an endorsement to really go to bat for a cause or a candidate, they are able to turn out formidable numbers.

Villanueva also has been endorsed by the SEIU United Service Workers West, which represents more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, airport service workers, and other property service workers across California.

Sheriff McDonnell has garnered the endorsements of various well-known county and statewide law enforcement organizations including the California Chiefs of Police, or Cal Chiefs, the California Peace Officers’ Association, the California Asian Peace Officers’ Association, and such local organizations as the Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Officers’ Association.

As in the primary election,  when incumbent Jim McDonnell got 47.87 percent of the vote, and challenger Alex Villanueva surprised most everyone by getting 33.20 percent,  Villanueva has been focusing on getting the support democratic clubs and organizations all over the county. According to his website, in addition to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Villanueva has the support of approximately 35 other democratic clubs, some of which are very active with get-out-the-vote calls.

Villanueva’s Twitter and Instagram feeds show him appearing at gathering after gathering for many of the regional clubs, some quite small in size, others a lot larger.

In early August, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, or ALADS, the union representing the rank-and-file Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, announced its endorsement of Villanueva.

“Alex is one of us,” wrote ALADS president, Ron Hernandez in a much lengthier statement. “He has over three decades of experience as a deputy, has served in the United States Air Force and the California Army National Guard, and earned a Doctorate in Public Administration while studying the impact of diversity on law enforcement leadership. He has been a tireless advocate for deputies, especially during moments in the department’s history when it was necessary to speak truth to those in power.”

McDonnell has far and away the longest list of elected officials, including Mayor Eric Garretti, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and four out of the five LA County Supervisors, among many others. (Thus far, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas does not appear to be McDonnell’s endorsement list.)

Last Saturday, Sheriff McDonnell caused a stir when, after initially agreeing to participate in a debate sponsored by the Southern California ACLU, KPCC, and others,  he then pulled out a few days before the event was to take place.

According to the LA Times’ Maya Lau, who attended the one-candidate debate, McDonnell’s campaign manager, Steve Barkan, sent a statement saying the sheriff will not appear at events alongside “a candidate who routinely makes false statements about the department, its policies and the sheriff himself.”

Villanueva, who was interviewed on Saturday night by KPCC’s Frank Stoltze, appeared beside an empty chair that featured a photo of the McDonnell, with a giant red MISSING stamp over the current sheriff’s image.

Thus far, the only time the two candidates have sparred face to face was at the July 23rd debate organized by PPOA that is pictured above.

Post script

In the last two days, much of Sheriff McDonnell’s time has been taken up by the shootout involving deputies that took place Wednesday evening at Salazar Park in East Los Angeles.  The incident, which occurred after a call regarding an assault with a deadly weapon came into the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station. Three patrol vehicles responded and, during an exchange of gunfire with suspects, two deputies were shot and seriously injured.  A suspect was killed, and another was injured.

One deputy was shot in the upper chest area and was subsequently released from the hospital.

The second deputy was shot in the jaw, and was listed in serious, but stable condition, but now is reportedly “doing better.”

Both of the injured deputies were described as experienced veterans with at least ten years on the job.


  • “He is one of us” says ALADS President Ron Hernandez. The endorsing of Alex Villanueva has garnered the ire of many old heads at ALADS. Alex is the original kryptonite of ALADS when he left to start LASPA which competes with ALADS amongst deputies within LASD. I for one, respect the strength and wherewithal of Villanueva who exposed the graft of ALADS along with prior poor LASD management.

  • Haters soon will star trashing Alex, so here I go. Haters can say all the negative and bad about Alex if they want, but I joined LASPA in 1999, only because I had respect for Alex. Alex has had the courage to stand up and fight for what he believes, yes being obnoxious and noise if you want to call it that way, but very few dare, to stand up against bullies running the sheriff’s department then and now. Most of us complain, and moan but are not willing to stand up for fear of being hurt, most rather continue being victims. Yes, fighting for what is right is going to hurt, but it hurts more being a silent victim.

  • Hey “jc” why don’t you give us some examples how you have experienced pain “fighting for what is right”. Seems you’re always ready to call on everyone else to “stand up” let’s hear about your battles.

  • Maj Kong, I am not here to prove you, or anybody else my opinion, nor to engage you, or anybody else in a fight of words, just expressing my opinion, protected by the first. You have your opinions, I have mine, based on our own experiences.

  • So far, to have establishment organizations endorse the incumbent is not new. In fact it was expected, not real news. But, to have the incumbent (McDonnell) to refuse to debate is a poor strategy to avoid defending your work performance. POPA Board members must be careful on a so called “hefty” monetary donation. There was only a 29 vote difference between Villanueva and McDonnell. Obviously, few supervisors even bothered to vote. With this as a background, if the POPA Board gives out a “hefty” donation there will be new board members voted in as a “hefty” donation would alienate 50% of your membership. Not a smart move. It would behoove POPA to send out a notice asking the membership how much(if anything) money should McDonnell get. I bet you’ll get a whole lot better response.

  • When your opinion involves telling others to stand up and take the hurt, I think you owe everyone examples of how you have done the same.

  • Hey Kong, I believe you exposed JC. His opinions outweigh his limited experience which disqualifies him for actual and factual conversation. He’s all over the map. Friggin incredible.

  • The ALADS has lost their moral compass, and are standing with a malcontent that will further advance the poor policies of ALADS.

  • All of Villanueva’s endorsements are legitimate. ALADS is the only exception & questionable one. Why? Because Alex pointed out the internal discrepancie and as a result he’s always been in ALADS bullseye. I’m curious as to their angle as time will tell. Alex, I know you read WLA so as a true believer in your fight for what’s right, I’ll tell you this, “WATCH YOUR BACK AND TAKE ALADS ENDORSEMENT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT”.

  • Ditto for ALADS. Majority votes usually dictate decisions however it would be interesting as to the yea’s & nea’s of ALADS Board regarding endorsement and voting process.

  • Saw the latest Star & Shield. Congratulations to Wayne Quint as newest executive director for PPOA. Brian Moriguchi’s article on PPOA’s vetting process for Sheriff was “spot on”. Much to be said about a union who does not shoot from the hip. Too often, emotions and ego get in the way of structural process which usually leads to dismal results. I do wish the best to both to Jim McDonnell and challenger Alex Villanueva.

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