Palo Alto Police Chief Robert “Rob” Jonsen led retired sheriff’s captain Kevin Jensen in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s race Tuesday, widening an early lead in his bid to be the first new county sheriff in more than two decades.
With 90% of precincts reporting, but half the votes remaining to be counted, Jonsen, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s captain, held a 7,314-vote margin over the retired sheriff’s officer three hours after the polls’ 8pm closing time.
The two law enforcement veterans topped two sheriff’s deputies in a reform-minded campaign that coincided with the civil misconduct trial of ex-Sheriff Laurie Smith, who chose not to seek re-election to a seventh term after votes of no confidence and a scathing grand jury report accusing her of misconduct.
Smith resigned last week as the jury was deliberating an eventual guilty verdict in the non-criminal case.Smith’s surprise announcement two months before the end of her sixth term left unclear what sentence could result from the verdict.
This year was Jensen’s second attempt at the sheriff’s post. He ran against his former boss, Smith, in 2014 and lost.
Acting Sheriff Ken Binder did not seek election.
Santa Clara County Sheriff
Early, unofficial returns 11pm
Robert Jonsen 51.5%
Kevin Jensen 48.5%