Deputies' Union Votes "No-Confidence" in 16-Year Incumbent Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith

Union president says vote shows "lack of satisfaction with the performance of the current sheriff"

By Damian Trujillo
|  Monday, Jun 2, 2014  |  Updated 10:50 PM PDT
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One of the key races in Tuesday’s primary election is the race for sheriff in Santa Clara County, where four-term incumbent Laurie Smith is trying to ward off one of her former captains, Kevin Jensen. Damian Trujillo reports.

One of the key races in Tuesday’s primary election is the race for sheriff in Santa Clara County, where four-term incumbent Laurie Smith is trying to ward off one of her former captains, Kevin Jensen. Damian Trujillo reports.

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One of the key races in Tuesday’s primary election is the race for sheriff in Santa Clara County, where four-term incumbent Laurie Smith is trying to ward off one of her former captains, Kevin Jensen.

Monday, Sheriff Smith’s campaign took a hit when the deputies' union announced that a majority of the sheriff’s deputies had issued a vote of no confidence against her.

The Deputy Sheriff's Association of Santa Clara County says its members have already cast their vote: a vote of no confidence against Smith. The union is endorsing Smith’s opponent, Jensen.

The timing of the no-confidence vote is no accident. Many are calling it a strategic move by the deputies. Union President Don Morrissey explained the maneuver as “a way of showing a lack of satisfaction with the performance of the current sheriff.”

Sheriff Smith deferred comment on the vote of no confidence to political consultant Richard Robinson, who told NBC Bay Area the deputy sheriff’s association’s vote is a “voting process that could make Vladimir Putin proud. We don’t take it seriously.”

Smith said she is ready to report to work as sheriff for the next four years. She declined NBC Bay Area’s request for an interview on Monday, but in a text message, Robinson said the union’s campaign has been “disgusting” and “dishonest,” saying the deputy union’s leadership has enhanced their “Keystone Cop image.”

But, regardless of the timing, the union says its vote shows almost 89 percent of the sheriff’s deputies don’t like the job Sheriff Laurie Smith is doing.

“How is this department going to operate,” Morrissey said, “and how is it going to look knowing that the membership question the ability of the current sheriff?”

The decision on who will be the next sheriff could be made by just a few voters. That’s because experts estimate this election will attract the lowest voter turnout in 20 years.

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