LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A senior member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's leadership ranks has announced his intention to run against Sheriff Alex Villanueva in 2022.
Eliezer Vera is chief of the department's Technology and Support Division, and has been with the LASD since 1988.
He criticized Villanueva for how the sheriff has handled disagreements since his election in 2018.
“I believe as law enforcement officers our mission is to bring calmness and civility and peace to very difficult situations. And what we've witnessed from the current sheriff is someone that when someone disagrees with him, we see nothing but utter disdain and contempt,'' Vera said as he announced his candidacy Wednesday morning in Grand Park, surrounded by his wife, children, mother and grandchildren.
“I believe an organization is as a reflection of its leader. The community looks to law enforcement to be the voice of reason during its worst of times. Unfortunately, at the present time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has developed a reputation for contributing to contention during trying times,'' Vera said in a statement issued later Wednesday.
Villanueva has clashed repeatedly with the Board of Supervisors regarding a number of oversight issues. The board voted to explore ways to remove him from office in November 2020 before later backing off.
Vera said that if elected, he would make it his mission to “restore confidence in the office of the sheriff by partnering with the Board of Supervisors, collaborating with oversight, creating clear channels of communication with all whom we serve, and setting aside differences for the fulfillment of one common purpose -- serving the residents of Los Angeles County.''
Villanueva told KTLA that he looked forward to the race.
“Everyone has the right to run for any political office in this nation, that's what makes our nation great,'' the sheriff said. “Wish him the best, but ultimately his record is going to have to be defended, just like I'm defending my record, and I look forward to the opportunity.''
Vera has risen through the ranks of the LASD, serving at the Men's Central Jail, the Lynwood, Lennox, Compton, Century and South Los Angeles stations, the Detective Division's Cargo Theft Criminal Apprehension Team, as an executive aide in the Office of the Sheriff, in the Reserve Forces Bureau and the Communications and Fleet Management Bureau.
He was promoted to the rank of chief in December 2018, overseeing the department's Central Patrol Division. In January, he transferred to the Technology & Support Division, where he oversees the Scientific Services, Data Systems, Records & Identification and Communications & Fleet Management bureaus.
Vera is a former U.S. Marine. He and Villanueva have worked closely together in the past, when both were sergeants at the Lennox Station in the early 2000s. Vera also consulted on Villanueva's campaign for sheriff in 2018, and praised his aptitude shortly after the November 2018 election.
“There will be a learning curve. But this is a man with a PhD. He is no dummy,'' Vera told the Los Angeles Times at the time.
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