Barger issues statement reaffirming opposition to sheriff ousting

Los Angeles County Seal.

Following the Board of Supervisors’ vote upholding their decision to order a special election that — if successful — would give them the power to oust the L.A. County sheriff, Supervisor Kathryn Barger doubled down on her opposition to such power being given to her and her colleagues.  

In a statement released Tuesday morning, and while the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting was still ongoing, Barger said she remained opposed to a November ballot measure that would give the board authority to remove a publicly elected sheriff from office for cause.    

“Giving the Board of Supervisors authority to remove an elected sheriff unequivocally takes away power from the public. It’s a move that has the potential to disenfranchise voters,” Barger said. “It also overlooks the fact that a recall process already exists to remove elected officials who fail to perform their duties.”   

“I’ve firmly and consistently voiced my vote to not support this charter amendment,” the supervisor added. “Now that it has been approved by the board to appear on the ballot on Election Day, the ultimate decision rests in the hands of our L.A. County voters, who will also elect a sheriff that day. I’m hopeful they will show up to voice their collective will.” 

The future ballot measure, according to the motion, will ask voters whether they support the changing of the L.A. County Charter to grant the Board of Supervisors the authority to remove the sheriff by a four-fifths vote “for cause.” The justifications for cause are listed as any unlawful or negligent action on the part of the sheriff, as well as any evidence that the sheriff’s administration is engaging in the “willful falsification” of documents or purposeful “obstruction of any investigation” into his conduct.  

In the past, supervisors have accused Sheriff Alex Villaneuva of having defied subpoenas and resisted investigations by the Office of Inspector General, “intimidated or harassed” individuals charged with overseeing him, and lacked transparency with regard to deputy misconduct.  

In statements of his own, Villanueva has opposed the charter amendment, calling it unethical and a conflict of interest for the supervisors to be able to fire an official who was elected to serve more than 10 million people. He also called it hypocritical of them to include just his office in the charter amendment, but not the other countywide positions — such as the county Board of Supervisors, the assessor or the district attorney.  

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