Villanueva and Luna square off in L.A. sheriff’s debate: How to watch

The two candidates for Los Angeles County sheriff’s office will face each other in a debate Wednesday night.

Here’s what you know and how to watch it.

The candidates

Alex Villanueva is the Acting Sheriff of Los Angeles County. He is running as a “law and order” candidate but faces a series of scandals that have hit his department.

Villanueva has come under fire for not doing enough to crack down on gang-like groups of MPs accused for decades of exercising significant control over department offices and glorifying violence.

He’s also a central part of Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against LA County over photos shared by deputies from the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Lakers star Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others.

And Villanueva has been accused by senior sheriff officials of trying to cover up an incident in which a deputy knelt on the head of a handcuffed inmate. The sheriff’s department’s handling of the case is the subject of a criminal grand jury investigation.

Villanueva, who was elected in 2018, has rebranded himself as a more conservative sheriff and law and order candidate, and appears regularly on Fox News to rail against the “woke left” and to address voter frustrations with homelessness and crime.

Robert Luna became the Long Beach Police Department’s first Latino chief in 2014 and retired last year.

He’s made sheriff’s department reform a top priority.

“He’s dysfunctional, and when I say he’s dysfunctional, you can’t have someone who doesn’t have good relationships with the community, with the media, with other … elected and government officials, and with good public safety,” Luna said of Villenueva when he entered the race last year.

Luna grew up in East LA, which is patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department. Despite his community’s strained relationship with law enforcement, Luna said he’s dreamed of becoming a police officer since he was 5. He said he joined the Long Beach Force at 18 and has held every rank there during his 36-year career.

Despite facing questions about his ability to lead a far larger agency, Luna said he has demonstrated his leadership skills, noting his appointment to the board of Major Cities Chiefs Assn. Being an outsider means he’s not obligated to any interests in the sheriff’s department, Luna said, adding that he would “open every file” for outside agencies like the FBI and the Justice Department “to come in and do a thorough investigation.”

condition of the race

In the crowded primary field, Villanueva received 30.66% of the vote compared to Luna’s 25.85%.

A Times/UC Berkeley poll released in August found Luna had an early advantage.

Overall, 31% of LA County voters support Luna, while 27% support Villanueva, poll results show.

Luna is heavily favored by Liberals and Democrats, with 46% of voters who identify as Strong Liberal say they would vote for him, and just 7% support Villanueva.

The sheriff, on the other hand, is more popular with conservative and Republican voters: 54% of voters who self-identified as strongly conservative said they would vote for Villanueva’s re-election if the election took place today. Only 13% said they would choose Luna.

like watching

The debate will take place on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center. It will be streamed live on and and aired on Fox 11 and KPCC 89.3 FM. Villanueva and Luna square off in L.A. sheriff’s debate: How to watch

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