Barring recalls or resignations, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and District Attorney Mike Hestrin will be in office at least through 2028 — two years after their current terms were set to expire — under a new state law that reschedules elections for the public safety leaders.
Gov. Gavin Newsom late last month signed AB 759, which shifts sheriff and district attorney elections in most California counties to presidential election years. The new law doesn’t appear to affect San Bernardino or Los Angeles counties and it’s unclear whether it applies to Orange County.
A Republican and vocal critic of Newsom who supported recalling the Democratic governor, Bianco mockingly thanked Newsom “for the unintended consequences” of AB 759 in a Facebook post.
In a phone interview Monday, Oct. 3, Hestrin said the motivation behind AB 759 “is a little fishy.”
He said he’d take the additional years in office “and certainly my supporters will be happy about that.”
A Republican, Hestrin criticized the new law as “a pretty cynical attempt” to move sheriff and DA elections “to a time when the one party in power (Democrats) thinks it’s better for them.”
He added he thinks the law will backfire on Democrats, adding he has “strong support from registered Democrats” and does his job in a nonpartisan manner.
AB 759 also applies to Riverside County Assessor/County Clerk/Recorder Peter Aldana, who ran unopposed for a four-year term in June.
Sponsored by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, AB 759 reschedules elections for sheriffs, district attorneys and assessors in an effort to boost voter turnout for those races. Turnout for presidential elections tends to be higher than in other years.
But because AB 759 takes effect Jan. 1, it gives Bianco and Hestrin, who were re-elected in June, another two years in office until the 2028 presidential election. Previously, they were up for re-election in 2026.
The new law applies to so-called general law counties. Forty-four of California’s 58 counties, including Riverside County, fit that category.
Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties are among California’s 14 charter counties. San Bernardino County is exempt from the new law because before Jan. 1, 2021, its charter scheduled sheriff, district attorney and assessor elections for dates other than the presidential primary, according to a report to the state Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments.
L.A. County’s sheriff and assessor elections also are exempt. And it appears the new law doesn’t apply to L.A .County District Attorney George Gascón, who was elected in 2020 and is up for re-election in 2024, when the presidency is on the ballot.
Bianco and Hestrin were re-elected in the June 7 primary, with Bianco winning 61% of the vote in defeating Michael Lujan and Hestrin getting 55% in beating Lara Gressley and Burke Strunsky.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.