Sheriff Bill Brown cruised to victory Tuesday in his bid for a third four-year term as Santa Barbara County's top lawman, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office.
Brown received 56.8 percent of the vote in the semi-official election results, while his challenger, Sgt. Sandra Brown (no relation), tallied 43 percent.
The county election had 29.31 percent turnout and 56,837 ballots filed, according to the preliminary totals released Tuesday night.
The incumbent sheriff took a strong lead with the first batch of absentee ballots, and did not relinquish the lead throughout the evening.
Sandra Brown, who has worked in the Sheriff's Department for almost 17 years, currently supervises the Coroner’s Office Special Investigations Bureau as a detective sergeant.
Bill Brown served as Lompoc’s police chief before being elected sheriff in 2006. He has lobbied for state money to fund the new North County Jail, which is expected to open in 2018, and wants to restore the department’s 40 vacant positions. He ran unopposed in 2010.
Brown said he was proud of his campaign focusing on his own experience and accomplishments, and he thanked the many volunteers and staff members who helped. The results show that voters trust him, he said.
“I’m looking forward to at least another four years protecting and serving Santa Barbara County.”
With another term, he plans to restore deputy sheriff positions that were cut during the last several years. He’s also focused on building and operating the North County Jail, which he says will be a “tremendous asset” to the county.
“It will provide relief to overcrowding, inject millions of dollars into the local economy and create jobs that are so desperately needed,” Brown said.
The rehabilitative complex at the jail will be a safer environment for inmates and jail staff, giving people a better chance to return to a productive life after incarceration, he said.
Speaking on Tuesday night, he mostly wanted to express his gratitude to supporters and county voters for keeping him at the helm of the “greatest law enforcement team anywhere.”
Sandra Brown, an Orcutt resident, campaigned heavily for a change of philosophy within the department. She said the Sheriff’s Department has low morale within its ranks and the leadership focuses too much on incarceration.
She could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
She has also criticized the staffing and response plans for Deltopia, the large street party in Isla Vista that escalated into a riot in early April.
In a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, she said the department needs more early interventions and higher staffing levels for events like this.
Bill Brown defended the department’s planning and response, saying there were five times as many officers as last year and no fatalities.