That said, more reforms are needed to democratize LA County government. More diversity is one need. LA County is home to over 10 million residents, half of whom are Latino. Yet, only one of the five supervisors’ seats is held by a Latina. Additionally, there are sizable Asian, Armenian, Muslin, and Mideastern populations without representation on the current Board of five. These are working and middle-class communities that have been hit hard by the recent uptick in crime. Yet, the current and recent Board have “defunded” our Sheriff’s department by over $100M they are currently gifting to their friends in the nonprofit.
Sheriff of Los Angeles County
With each representing 2 million residents in LA County, defeating the incumbent Board of Supervisors is nearly impossible. This creates a lack of accountability. Take for example the County’s poor record during COVID. As COVID first spread across the region, LA County was doing an abysmal 200 tests a day. Local businesses have told me that to this day they have received little or no communication from the County. During the deadly surge a year ago, the County reported a 1000% increase in deaths among Latinos and shockingly announced on the same day that in-person dining would reopen that week.  The incoherence and indifference toward Latinos who dominate restaurant work was shocking. To date, Latino’s account for 62% of COVID infections in LA County where they represent 50% of the population. These discrepancies are not new.
We need a more diverse and accountable board that will do the right thing and not just appeal to the handful of woke noise makers. Here is how we can get there.
- It is time to expand the board of supervisors from five (5) elected members to seven (7) or even nine (9) seats so more even voices can be heard. Currently each supervisor represents 1.9 m people. That is far too many.
- It is also time to create a county-wide elected executive, like a mayor, who can be independent of the legislative function of the supervisors. Currently, and quite harmfully, the board is both the legislative and executive branch of county government, way too much power and authority with zero checks and balances.
- This is also an opportunity to appoint more diverse boards and commissioners. To take one example, currently no Latinos serve on the politically contentious civilian oversight commission.
- The same can be said of the lack of diversity of thought and class on the LA Metro Public Safety Advisory Committee or Alternatives to Incarceration commissions. The lack of public transportation riders, native foreign language speakers, public safety professionals, political moderates and working people has created slanted and elitist approaches to core issues like rising crime, transit safety, and quality of life.
- It is also time appointed commissioners be required to file statements of fiscal interests and disclosures which none now have.
- In addition, ALL organizations, for profit or nonprofit, that advocate and lobby for grants, service contracts, or “seed money” should be required to register as lobbyists. This would also help bring to light the explosion of unreported and unlimited donations to the 501c4, better known as ‘dark money.’
Sheriff Alex Villanueva is not only the first Spanish-speaking Latino Sheriff since 1890, but he is also the first challenger to defeat an incumbent Sheriff in Los Angeles County in over a century. Villanueva’s 1.3 million votes are more than the combined votes of all five sitting LA County Board of Supervisors in their last elections. Sheriff Villanueva is seeking reelection in 2022.
By Alex Villanueva, Sheriff of Los Angeles County
January 23, 2022