San Diego County Sheriff candidate Kelly Martinez attends the Democratic Election Party at the Westin Hotel in San Diego on Nov. 8, 2022. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego
San Diego County Sheriff candidate Kelly Martinez attends the Democratic Election Party at the Westin Hotel in San Diego on Nov. 8, 2022. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego

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This post first appeared in the Nov. 9 Morning Report. Get the daily newsletter in your inbox for free today.

Kelly Martinez had a comfortable lead over John Hemmerling, meaning San Diego County is likely to get its first Democratic sheriff. Only four people have served in that role since the 1970s, all Republicans.

One of the most important offices in San Diego County, the sheriff oversees thousands of employees who patrol streets, carry out evictions and run the jails — which has the highest mortality rate among California’s largest counties. How to prevent deaths was a dominant topic of debate throughout the election cycle. 

Martinez, who has served as undersheriff, has identified fentanyl as the driving force behind deaths and pointed to a medical assistant treatment program that monitors people going through withdrawal. 

“There’s more that we can do,” she said in October. “There’s more that we’re going to do.” 

Thanks to a recent change in state law, sheriffs and district attorneys across California will serve a six-term rather than four-year term to realign elections going forward with presidential years. 

Top prosecutor: District Attorney Summer Stephan gets six years too after running unopposed. She won, considering there was no opposition. 

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