As the political season really begins to heat up, the LA Times’ Raja Abdulrahim puts out an interesting piece noting that Sheriff Hutchens’ outsider credentials – once seen as a plus – has become an issue in the June election.

When county supervisors appointed Sandra Hutchens to finish the term of indicted Sheriff Mike Carona, they touted her experience from the LA County Sheriff’s Department. But almost immediately, a majority of them started criticizing her policy and budgetary approaches as too LA-style.

One Sheriff candidate – Anahiem Deputy Chief Craig Hunter – is already hitting Hutchens with the line reminding residents that LA stole the local identity of the Angels. They can’t also take the Sheriff’s department, Hunter argues.

From the Times story:

A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department division chief, Sandra Hutchens was lauded by one Orange County supervisor for being “removed from the political machinations in the county” and was seen as a welcome breath of fresh air in a department that had been led for decades by politically connected lawmen.

But now, facing her first election bid, Hutchens is fighting criticism that she’s too much of an outsider, a career cop from Los Angeles who just doesn’t understand Orange County.

As sheriff, Hutchens shook up her command staff, threatened to rescind concealed weapons permits handed out by former Sheriff Michael S. Carona and struck an independent tone that rubbed some county supervisors the wrong way, at times leaving them out of the loop or having to ask questions after decisions had been made…

“I do not even begin to apologize for coming from L.A. L.A. Sheriff’s is a very fine departmentIt’s all about best practices and borrowing ideas from other agencies,” [Hutchens said] “I think it’s meant to evoke some kind of negative image, but I certainly reject that.”

Since her appointment, Hutchens has been at odds with just about every countywide elected leader – including District Attorney Tony Rackauckus and the Republican central committee. To date, the only county supervisor that doesn’t openly question her is Supervisor John Moorlach. He was the critical third vote that cemented Hutchens appointment, along with Supervisors Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates.

A poll last month showed that nearly three-quarters of Sheriff deputies would vote against Hutchens. Retired Lt. Bill Hunt got the deputy union endorsement. Other unions haven’t made any announcements about support.

But nearly all say they don’t have much of a relationship with Hutchens and she hasn’t done a good job of reaching out.

Yet given Carona’s history of connections to virtually all these groups, Hutchens might benefit from the outsider emblem. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the campaign.

An interesting twist to the outside-inside Hutchens’ ballet: Despite her outsider and anti-Carona credentials, Hutchens has been able to garner financial support from many wealthy Republicans – even a number who were Carona financial backers.


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