Smith has presided over a department that has been operating under a cloud of controversy for a long time. The most recent has been her oversight of the county jails and the 2015 murder of an inmate, Michael Tyree, by three deputy sheriffs. She has attempted in this campaign to deflect responsibility for all that is wrong at the jails to Hirokawa, who as undersheriff was the No. 2 in the department and, among a host of other operational responsibilities, oversaw the assistant sheriff who was directly running the jail.
The finger-pointing about who should be held accountable for serious deficiencies in the sheriff's department and jail aside, the other three challengers do not have close to the law enforcement management experience needed to oversee the 1,800-person, $350 million agency. Between Smith, 66, who is asking for a sixth, four-year term, and Hirokawa — who like Smith went up through the ranks over his more than 35 years with the department until retiring in 2016 at age 61 — we think Hirokawa is the better choice.
Significantly, Hirokawa is supported by 11 former police chiefs, including recently retired Palo Alto chief Dennis Burns, and retired San Jose Independent Police Auditor and former judge LaDoris Cordell, who also chaired a blue-ribbon committee appointed after the jail murder of Tyree in 2015. He is also endorsed by Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian and the Deputy Sheriffs' Association. (Smith was endorsed by the other four county supervisors.)
In addition to overseeing the jails (since 2010), the sheriff's department is responsible for law enforcement in the county's unincorporated areas and provides police services to several smaller cities, including Los Altos Hills and to the VTA. It also provides security at all county courthouses and grants Stanford police its deputized law enforcement status even though Stanford officers are university employees and supervised by a police chief hired by Stanford.
Smith has retained her seat over the last 20 years by being an astute politician who has nurtured all the right relationships and made sure the communities contracting with the sheriff's office for police services are happy. That's commendable, but we believe the troubled department needs stronger leadership. A runoff election campaign will help confirm whether John Hirokawa is the person to bring it.
Hendrickson for judge
In the event that Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is successfully recalled on June 5, voters need to choose one of the two candidates running to replace him. If he is not recalled, then the election for his successor will not matter, so voters opposed to the recall should not withhold their vote from this race thinking that it would benefit Persky to do so.
Both candidates are experienced and respected attorneys and both have opted not to weigh in on the Persky recall or the Brock Turner case.
Cindy Hendrickson is a veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor and one of six assistant district attorneys serving as part of District Attorney Jeff Rosen's management team. She has been in the DA's office for 23 years and over her career has overseen prosecutions out of the North County courthouse in Palo Alto and the department's Family Violence Unit. She is a 1990 graduate of UCLA School of Law and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford.
Angela Storey, who jumped into the race in late February, began her legal career handling insurance litigation for Farmers Insurance and then did construction and business litigation. Since 2013 she has been in private practice with her husband in San Jose, where she mostly handles civil cases. Storey graduated from Santa Clara University Law School in 2001 after receiving her undergraduate degree from UCLA.
Hendrickson's extensive experience in the criminal court system and her management experience make her the easy choice in this election.
This story contains 679 words.
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