Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith was re-elected Tuesday night as the county's top cop with a handy defeat of her opponent.
In a contentious race, Smith garnered almost 60 percent of voter support on her way to a fifth term as sheriff, beating retired Sheriff's Capt. Kevin Jensen, the favorite of deputy sheriff's and corrections deputies unions who had a bit more than 40 percent following an often bitter campaign.
No runoff election will be held as the race is nonpartisan.
Smith, 61, has said the top challenges for her next term will be managing the state-required transfer of low-level prison inmates to serve their time in the county jail, suppressing gang activity and preventing youths from joining gangs.
"We have a lot of challenges right now," she said. "Prison realignment, crime rats. We also have a lot of healing to do within the organization."
After his defeat at the polls early Wednesday morning, Jensen, 50, said that he was proud to have been endorsed by an overwhelming majority of deputy sheriffs and other law enforcement officers in the county.
Jensen said that Smith does not work well with others and he expects there to be lingering problems during her next term.
"I think I’ll keep giving back, I love to help the department," Jensen said. "There are good people in the department that are hurting right now. And there are good people in the public who don’t deserve to be treated like they have been.”
Neither got the endorsement of the San Jose Mercury News.
NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle and Jeff Burbank from Bay City News contributed to this report.