News


Editorial: Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith

Incumbent seeks sixth term on Nov. 6

In the June primary election for Santa Clara County Sheriff we endorsed former Undersheriff John Hirokawa in hopes that a fall campaign might demonstrate he had the capability to improve upon Sheriff Laurie Smith's rather mediocre performance over the last 20 years.

Instead, we've come to the opposite conclusion.

Hirokawa has bounced from one problem to another since winning enough votes in the primary to force a run-off. He missed the deadline to file his ballot statement and then in court filings tried to blame the Registrar of Voters for it, first saying he had not been properly notified of the deadline and then denying he received a reminder letter. If he can't follow simple rules like every other candidate and take responsibility for his own errors, he isn't qualified to be the leader of a complex 1,800-person, $350 million public agency.

Hirokawa also made comments in a deposition that appeared to be defending the head of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association, which had endorsed him. Racist text messages that surfaced between the union president and several other deputies led to disciplinary action, but Hirokawa's statements revealed more concern for the deputies and due process than for the ugly text messages they had sent and the culture they revealed.

Santa Clara County voters deserve a competent and visionary chief law-enforcement officer. Smith is, finally, on the right track with implementing long-needed jail reforms, and we are optimistic she will follow through on concerns about the oversight of the Stanford police force, which operates under an unusual grant-of-authority from the county that gives the private institution full police powers.

In spite of her shortcomings, which include an uninspired and weak administrative record over her two decades in the office, we believe she is the better choice.

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Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Matthew Peyton
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2018 at 12:38 pm

You definitely have one thing right.... Smith has her “shortcomings.” However, you are sorely mistaken if you feel she is the better choice for Sheriff! Law enforcement is an ever evolving profession that needs constant reform and new ideas to stay relevant and in tune with the community. Smith had 20 years, but has failed miserably!!! You say, “Smith is, finally, on the right track.” So you say.... but it only took TWO DECADES!!! I am severely doubting your journalistic integrity. Hopefully the rest of your readers will too.


10 people like this
Posted by Jenell
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm

How exactly is Laurie Smith finally on the right track with jail reforms? Where is the independent oversight? How many of the blue ribbon commision recommendations have actually been implemented? Who is verifying and checking for progress? In regards to John's comments regarding the texting ring, like it or not, due process is important. In no interview or forum have I ever heard John say that he condoned the texts. He has repeatedly talked about how vile and disgusting they were. His comments about due process and evaluation of severity of discipline were in the context of comparing this disciplinary action to others in the department. If discipline was consistent and similar misdeeds likely not swept under the carpet by the current administration, there would be no need to ask how the disciplines compare. Instead there would be a history of a fair and just process for ALL misconduct. The culture in any organization starts from the top and permeates down. There is plenty of evidence that points to the toxic culture Laurie has helped create. This newspaper may be basing their endorsement on optimism for change, but my vote is with the candidate who has a clear plan for change, a huge component being independent oversight.


3 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Did Republican Laurie Smith pay Palo Alto Weekly to publish her ‘swift-boat’ style talking points?

Learn the truth! Obviously, Palo Alto Weekly did not do their due diligence to review this farse by asking John regarding this matter.


[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 21, 2018 at 7:58 am

Sarah1000 is a registered user.

I completely agree with Jenell. Well said.


2 people like this
Posted by not voting for Smith
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 22, 2018 at 11:14 am

not voting for Smith is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2018 at 1:53 pm

What difference is it that a candidate is a Republican or Democrat? Either the person can do the job or NOT.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bobby G
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:24 am

These two candidates are not perfect. But for me, it’s clear one has experience, education, and track record, that even though it isn’t perfect, it is way better than the tract record of the new guy who hasn’t shown strong leadership in the face of pretty much anything. I’d rather have a strong, decisive leader that makes mistakes than a wishy-washy leader who can’t make a decision, or meet a deadline to save his life, let alone out the lives of a whole county in his hands.


3 people like this
Posted by #not with her
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2018 at 6:32 am

Nope not voting for Laurie. Her her way or the highway attitude, puts this county in serious jeopardy of a lawsuit.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2018 at 10:28 am

Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> What difference is it that a candidate is a Republican or Democrat? Either the person can do the job or NOT.

It might make a difference if one of the candidates is a Republican. Which one is?

I must say, though, that both candidates are underwhelming. This is a job that requires rock-solid leadership.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paul Kersey
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

So you guys support the candidate that lets her BIG donors get a petmit to carried concealed guns in public.

POOR CHOICE.


6 people like this
Posted by Steve Eldridge
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:54 pm

20 years is enough to get your bearings line up. How can an incumbent run on a reform platform when she is responsible for 20 years of lack luster performance.
It is time for real change.
John Hirokawa may not be ideal but he's bringing new ideas and new energy. Plus he has the support of the deputies who will be working for him.
Citizen oversight is key to his platform and Smith has resisted that effort to bring integrity to the department.
Enough of another Sheriff Joe! Bring in Hirokawa!


Like this comment
Posted by Kathy Atkins
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2018 at 9:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Learn the Truth

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by RSH
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 5, 2018 at 9:32 am

I apologize that I don't know much about the candidates, I also don't swing either way on either one just yet, but I do feel very strongly about one thing mentioned here:

"He missed the deadline to file his ballot statement and then in court filings tried to blame the Registrar of Voters for it, first saying he had not been properly notified of the deadline and then denying he received a reminder letter. If he can't follow simple rules like every other candidate and take responsibility for his own errors, "

I don't know if he's making excuses or if it's a series of unfortunate events, but this happens. I had submitted my application for a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship 2 weeks before the deadline. The system gave me an error. Several times over those 2 weeks I tried to file and contacted their support (who responded "keep trying") up until the deadline of 8pm the day it was due. At 8PM that day, my submission went through. At 8:10PM my submission registered being submitted at 8:06PM, disqualifying it for consideration even though I had an entire paper trail of undeniable proof.

It happens.

What are you suppose to do when it isn't your fault?
You're damned if you tell the truth and damned if you don't.

If he is telling the truth, then he's pointing out some very crucial flaws in the system that we need honest people to point out and then deal with, exactly what he is doing. If he's making excuses, then it's entirely possible that he will make excuses the rest of the way.

It hasn't biased me either way but I'm sad to see that this author leans on it so heavily instead of thinking of the potential implications of a problem existing in system.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathy Atkins
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2018 at 8:29 pm

Watch who you vote for - Web Link


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