Skip to content

Sheriff’s race heats up as challengers vie for job


Los Angeles International Airport Police Chief Cecil Rhambo announced this week he will challenge Sheriff Alex Villanueva in the 2022 election.

Rhambo, a former assistant sheriff, made the announcement by releasing a handful of endorsements and an online video called “For Good,’’ in which he vows to stand up to corruption and outlines other elements of his platform.

Rhambo has worked for 33 years in law enforcement and also served as

city manager of Compton from 2017 through July 2019 and assistant city manager of Carson from 2014 to 2017.

In his “For Good’’ campaign video, he said he wants to address issues in the department such as deputy gangs and the continued rise of murders and shootings in Los Angeles, where violent crime is increasing at a rate not seen in decades. As a Black and Asian man, he said he understands what it’s like to walk down the street as a person of color.

He accused Villanueva of eroding public trust in the agency, saying he “used fear to consolidate power, and tried to rehire ex-deputies that committed domestic violence or excessive force and who make us good cops look bad.’’

Villanueva has fiercely defended his record as sheriff, insisting he undertook sweeping action to eliminate deputy gangs and lashing out at the Board of Supervisors for what he has called dramatic budget cuts—or “defunding’’–in a time of spiking crime rates.

Rhambo’s early supporters include California Legislative Black Caucus Chair and state Sen. Steve Bradford; California Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair and Assemblyman Mike Gipson; California Progressive Caucus Founder and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer; Assemblywoman Autumn Burke; and Assemblyman Jim Cooper.

Rhambo, who was raised in Compton and South Los Angeles after being  adopted from Korea, said his experience in law enforcement includes an assignment in the Internal Affairs Bureau, where he assisted in the formation of the Shooting and Force Response Team in the wake of the Rodney King beating.

Also running in the 2022 election is Eliezer Vera, a chief in the department, who announced his campaign this spring. Vera has served in the department since 1988.