Republican Undersheriff Donald Barnes is close to winning the Sheriff’s race outright, ending election night with 50.7 percent of votes, according to results posted by the Registrar of Voters 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Democrat Duke Nguyen, an investigator for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, received 30 percent while Republican Aliso Viejo Mayor Dave Harrington, a former Sheriff’s sergeant, received 19.3 percent of votes.
Because any ballots postmarked on Election Day will be counted, it will take the Registrar at least another three days after June 5 to tally all the votes and finalize the results of the election. If Barnes keeps more than 50 percent of votes, he wins the seat outright. But if he loses that lead, the top two vote-getters will face off in November.
The Registrar will post updated results at 5 p.m. every day after June 5, until the election is certified.
Tuesday’s election was a litmus test for a Sheriff’s Department that has fought allegations of corruption and mismanagement, amid state and federal investigations into its use of jailhouse informants and a high-profile jail escape.
Barnes, who is endorsed by retiring Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and a broad array of Republican elected officials, argued the magnitude of problems in the Sheriff’s Department were overblown by the media and that management corrected failures quickly and fairly.
Harrington and Nguyen ran as reform candidates and characterized Barnes as part of a management team that didn’t own up to its failures and hold people accountable.
Barnes, who has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 29 years, is the only candidate with management experience. Before he was appointed undersheriff in 2016, he served as an assistant sheriff and the chief of police for the city of Lake Forest.
Since Hutchens announced her retirement, Barnes has been the public face of the department, appearing at press conferences and public events in lieu of the incumbent sheriff.
Nguyen worked the Santa Ana Police Department as a civilian before becoming a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and eventually becoming an investigator for the Los Angeles District Attorney. He campaigned on promises to diversify the department to match the county’s demographics, improve transparency and ramp up community policing efforts.
Harrington worked for the department for 28 years before retiring in 2013 as a Sergeant. He has been an Aliso Viejo city council member since 2014. He focused his campaign on criticism of Barnes and current management in the wake of the snitch scandal and jail escape.
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