Jonsen or Jensen: Who will be Santa Clara County's new sheriff?

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Who will be the new sheriff in town in Santa Clara County?
With election day less than a week away, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's race is down to two candidates: Bob Jonsen and Kevin Jensen.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The polls may be closed for Election Day, but we're still awaiting the results of the Santa Clara County sheriff's race. This comes on the heels of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announcing her retirement.

In Santa Clara County, there's only room for one sheriff in town. The race is between two candidates: Bob Jonsen and Kevin Jensen.

"I'm feeling very hopeful and optimistic, cautiously optimistic about my chances," Jensen said.

CA ELECTION: List of races to watch around San Francisco Bay Area, state

Jensen has been long considered the front-runner in the race and has built on his momentum with major endorsements from the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff's Association and the San Jose Police Officers' Association among others.

After growing up with his father in prison, Jensen dedicated his life to law enforcement, joining the sheriff's office in 1985.

Jensen touts his experience working within the Sheriff's Office as a Captain in charge of the jail and leading the fight against mismanagement from former Sheriff Laurie Smith.

"I think some people tried to label it insider versus outsider, like I was somehow on Laurie Smith's team," Jensen said. "I was on the team of the mission of the Sheriff's Office and serving people, but once there was mismanagement and bad behavior, I've been calling it out for 12 years."

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Interview with Laurie Smith following SCC sheriff resignation amid corruption trial

The I-Team's Dan Noyes was the only reporter to question the former Santa Clara County sheriff following her resignation amid a corruption trial.

This week Smith announced her retirement, ending the 24-year run as the state's first female sheriff.

"It starts that new chapter within the Sheriff's Office and that's one I obviously hope to be apart of," Jonsen said.

Bob Jonsen enters the race having law enforcement experience in Los Angeles and Menlo Park and as Chief of Police in Palo Alto. He also hopes to follow in the footsteps of his great, great uncle who was a Sheriff for the county in the 1800s.

Jonsen says he stands on the ideals of accountability, oversight and transparency - ways to transform the Sheriff's Office as Smith faces trial for corruption.

VIDEO: Santa Clara County sheriff dodges I-Team questions about bribery scandal

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith called a news conference, one day after San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo demanded that she resign. But, Smith didn't address that issue until the I-Team's Dan Noyes asked her.

He says his fresh set of eyes is the best way to reform Santa Clara County in a way he has done in his past places of work.

"That's been the value going into an organization as the outsider, is having that completely fresh look and seeing where we need to take the organization," Jonsen said. "It's really time for this organization, the Sheriff's office, to start moving out of that cloud of controversy and really get back to serving the community."

Smith's resignation represents a changing of the guard in the county for the first time since 1998.

But will it be Jonsen or Jensen who takes the reigns?

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