Jensen Inches Closer to Front Runner Jonsen in SC Sheriff’s Race

Retired sheriff’s captain Kevin Jensen continued to inch closer to the top spot in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s race Tuesday, but Palo Alto Police Chief Robert “Rob” Jonsen held on to a narrowing lead, with just 10% of votes remaining to be counted.

After eight days of counting, Jonsen led by 1.44 percentage points. That’s less than half the margin Jonsen held over Jensen on Election Day, when 49% of votes had been counted.  Jonsen led by 7,314 votes the evening of Nov. 8.

His 6,251-vote margin today with more than 48,000 outstanding ballots from across the county kept this race in a too-close-to-call status. Still, Jensen would need approximately 57% of the remaining ballots to edge past Jonsen.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters reported Jonsen with 220,916 votes (50.72%) and Jensen with 214,665 votes (49.28%).

The two law enforcement veterans topped two sheriff’s deputies in a reform-minded campaign that coincided with the civil misconduct trial of ex-Sheriff Laurie Smith, who chose not to seek re-election to a seventh term after votes of no confidence and a scathing grand jury report accusing her of misconduct.

Smith resigned Nov. 1 as the jury was deliberating an eventual guilty verdict in the non-criminal case.Smith's surprise announcement two months before the end of her sixth term left unclear what sentence could result from the verdict. As if Nov. 15, Smith still has not been sentenced.

This year is Jensen’s second attempt at the sheriff’s post. He ran against his former boss, Smith, in 2014 and lost.

Acting Sheriff Ken Binder did not seek election.

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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