News

Editorial: Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith

Incumbent seeks sixth term on Nov. 6

In the June primary election for Santa Clara County Sheriff we endorsed former Undersheriff John Hirokawa in hopes that a fall campaign might demonstrate he had the capability to improve upon Sheriff Laurie Smith's rather mediocre performance over the last 20 years.

Instead, we've come to the opposite conclusion.

Hirokawa has bounced from one problem to another since winning enough votes in the primary to force a run-off. He missed the deadline to file his ballot statement and then in court filings tried to blame the Registrar of Voters for it, first saying he had not been properly notified of the deadline and then denying he received a reminder letter. If he can't follow simple rules like every other candidate and take responsibility for his own errors, he isn't qualified to be the leader of a complex 1,800-person, $350 million public agency.

Hirokawa also made comments in a deposition that appeared to be defending the head of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association, which had endorsed him. Racist text messages that surfaced between the union president and several other deputies led to disciplinary action, but Hirokawa's statements revealed more concern for the deputies and due process than for the ugly text messages they had sent and the culture they revealed.

Santa Clara County voters deserve a competent and visionary chief law-enforcement officer. Smith is, finally, on the right track with implementing long-needed jail reforms, and we are optimistic she will follow through on concerns about the oversight of the Stanford police force, which operates under an unusual grant-of-authority from the county that gives the private institution full police powers.

In spite of her shortcomings, which include an uninspired and weak administrative record over her two decades in the office, we believe she is the better choice.

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by No Thank You
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 24, 2018 at 11:45 am

I am voting for John Hirokawa.

Laurie Smith is always there to do political favors to the elites, she has been in long enough, time to go.


4 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2018 at 11:52 am

A paloaltoonline reader named Jennell posted a comment on this issue which bears reposting:
“How exactly is Laurie Smith finally on the right track with jail reforms? Where is the independent oversight? How many of the blue ribbon commision recommendations have actually been implemented? Who is verifying and checking for progress? In regards to John's comments regarding the texting ring, like it or not, due process is important. In no interview or forum have I ever heard John say that he condoned the texts. He has repeatedly talked about how vile and disgusting they were. His comments about due process and evaluation of severity of discipline were in the context of comparing this disciplinary action to others in the department. If discipline was consistent and similar misdeeds likely not swept under the carpet by the current administration, there would be no need to ask how the disciplines compare. Instead there would be a history of a fair and just process for ALL misconduct. The culture in any organization starts from the top and permeates down. There is plenty of evidence that points to the toxic culture Laurie has helped create. This newspaper may be basing their endorsement on optimism for change, but my vote is with the candidate who has a clear plan for change, a huge component being independent oversight.”


Like this comment
Posted by So that clears that up!
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 24, 2018 at 1:56 pm

So that clears that up! is a registered user.

Well, the challenger did get his candidate statement into the Voter Information Guide. The only way the incumbent could lose is for former Judge LaDoris Cordell to come out for the challenger. And people are already voting! Has Judge Cordell endorsed challenger John Hirokawa?


7 people like this
Posted by Waverly Res
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 24, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Waverly Res is a registered user.

We voted for John Hirokawa. Despite his shortcomings, Smith clearly has shown that she is not fit to be SC Sheriff. BTW, why do problems with incompetence and corruption seem to happen mostly with Sheriff's Departments and not with Police Departments??? Could it be because Sheriffs are elected politicians and not independent law enforcement professionals?


3 people like this
Posted by So that clears that up!
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 24, 2018 at 2:48 pm

So that clears that up! is a registered user.

I see Judge LaDoris Cordell atop John Hirokawa's endorsers on his campaign website. But the MV Voice also is still listed as endorsing him. Has Judge Cordell changed her recommendation?


15 people like this
Posted by Weak Endorsement
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Twenty years of drama and trouble in the force and the jails. Its time for change and let's give an experienced and poised candidate the opportunity to make appropriate changes that have not been implemented. John Hirokawa can make this happen.All you have on this law enforcement professional is a flub on his filing papers? He's not the career politician that Laurie Smith is. Let's send Laurie off to her generous retirement with a hearty "Thank you for your service, er, sort of". I have already voted for John Hirokawa and wish him the best in solving the problems that Laurie Smith and her cronies have ignored.


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