Eddie Engram holds early fundraising edge over rivals for Sonoma County Sheriff
Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram has an early fundraising lead over the three other candidates running for Sonoma County Sheriff, reporting over $90,000 in individual contributions, more than a third from current and former law enforcement officials.
Engram reported $90,089 from 147 contributions supporting his bid to succeed Sheriff Mark Essick, according to campaign finance reports covering all of 2021.
Retired Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dave Edmonds raised $47,848 from 64 contributions, followed by retired Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke at $27,375 from 45 contributions. Carl Tennenbaum, a former San Francisco police sergeant, raised $18,494 from 59 contributions.
In addition, Burke, Tennenbaum and Edmonds reported personal loans to their campaigns of $47,000, $37,000 and $25,000, respectively, records show.
The campaign finance reports provide a first snapshot of the support and resources behind four candidates in the most competitive race on the county ballot for the June 7 election.
Engram attributed his success to his appeal to “a wide variety of people,” though the largest share of Engram’s donor base, according to the campaign finance reports, are members of the Sheriff’s Office, where Engram oversees the county’s jail.
He has been endorsed by Essick, the Sonoma County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association, which represents correctional deputies and dispatchers.
“I don’t know if I’d describe (myself) as the law enforcement pick,” Engram said. “But if you look across my resume, you’ll see I have a more varied and more high profile portfolio — I’m the only candidate who has worked in the jail. I am the only candidate who has been involved at the management level and operational level of the last major fires we’ve had since 2017.”
The Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, the Marin County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and the political arm of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, which bills itself the largest law enforcement group in the state, also were donors to his campaign.
“I have trade groups both in law enforcement and out of law enforcement,” Engram said of his supporters. “Their endorsements say how they feel they feel that I am the most qualified person in the race.”
The three other candidates sought to contrast their campaigns with Engram’s, describing their fundraising efforts thus far as “grassroots.”
Edmonds pointed to the Sheriff’s Office heavy presence among Engram’s supporters as evidence that Essick’s favored successor would bring status quo leadership to largest local law enforcement agency in the county.
“Candidly, there’s a bully culture at the top of the Sheriff’s Office. There’s good employees at the Sheriff’s Office … but they have told me, ‘I can’t go on and endorse you because I will get grief,’” said Edmonds, who is mounting an insurgent campaign stitched with insider experience. He worked 32 in the Sheriff’s Office before fully retiring in 2017.
His endorsements include Supervisor Susan Gorin and Windsor Councilwoman Debora Fudge.
Donors to his campaign included Gorin; Bret Martin, of the family behind the local Pine Creek Properties real estate firm; Kimber Williams, former president of the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association; and environmental activist Rick Theis.
Few of his donors hail from law enforcement. Edmonds said his supporters are “ordinary, working class people … who can give what they have to go along with this vision for positive change.”
Burke, who retired last year after a decade with the Healdsburg Police Department, was the last of the four to declare his candidacy in mid-December. He also pointed to “a pretty diverse group of donors” within but also outside of law enforcement.
His donors include Sonoma County Community Development Commission Interim Executive Director David Kiff, Novato Police Chief Matthew McCaffrey and Healdsburg Councilwoman Evelyn Mitchell.
A number of local physicians, contractors, educators, attorneys, store managers and electrical workers also show up as his donors, his report shows.
“If you look at that list, it’s a very broad group of supporters. I’m proud of that. I don’t think there’s any typical profile of any one my contributors,” Burke said.
He has been endorsed by the Sonoma County Democratic Party, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Supervisor James Gore, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers and at least three members of Healdsburg City Council — Mayor Ozzy Jimenez, Vice Mayor Ariel Kelley and Mitchell, who served as mayor in 2020 and 2021.