Sheriff Bill Brown formally announced his run for reelection at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on Monday, backed by a sizable number of supporters. Bill Brown is being challenged by Sandra Brown, a 16-year veteran of the department and current detective sergeant for the Coroner’s Office. The two candidates, who are not related, will face off in the June election.
“We still have unfinished business,” Bill Brown said. He listed his intention to keep deputies on the streets and in the jail, to place a greater emphasis on rehab and reentry programs, and to reinstate some of the 64 positions cut during the recession. He also focused on the North County Jail, which is expected to open in 2018. Brown said that the new jail — he spearheaded efforts to get the $80 million in state funds for construction costs and, recently, $39 million for a wing dedicated to recidivism-reducing programs — will boost the county’s economy and add about 150 jobs. He also said that violent crime has gone down, citing a 41 percent drop since 1984 in the areas that his department oversees.
Sandra Brown, who would be the county’s first female sheriff, has said that the sheriff focuses too much of his attention on the new jail and not on issues like the department’s gang unit, crime in Isla Vista, finding a better way to deal with mentally ill inmates, and developing a better rapport with his deputies. “What is the landscape going to look like between now and 2018?” she asked. She also questioned the current lack of a concrete plan to pay for the operational costs — estimated at $17 million a year — of the county’s jail system once the new facility opens.
At the kickoff on Monday, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, who endorsed Bill Brown when he first ran in 2006, said he is “the only — the only — qualified candidate for this position.” First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal noted the “diverse crowd” of attendees, calling Brown a “team player” and a “consummate advocate for his department.”