Eddie Engram takes strong lead in Sonoma County sheriff race
Eddie Engram has established a strong lead over rivals Carl Tennenbaum and Dave Edmonds in the race for Sonoma County sheriff — with an early margin just shy of the simple majority needed to propel Engram into office without a runoff.
Engram, 48, an assistant Sonoma County sheriff who oversees Sonoma County jails, had 50% of the 52,561 votes counted by Wednesday morning.
Tennenbaum, 65, a former San Francisco police sergeant, trailed Engram with 26.99%.
Retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s Capt. Edmonds, 59, had 13.47% of the vote.
Reached Wednesday morning, Engram was “optimistic, but waiting for a final total.”
“There’s still a lot of ballots to count, so you don’t know where its going to end up,” he said.
His watch party at Old Possum Brewing Co. drew hundreds of attendees, he said, who watched for updates and waited until after 11 p.m. to head home.
“It’s been a long long road since last September. It’s had its ups and it’s had its downs, but I appreciate all those who supported me and hopefully look forward to becoming the next sheriff,” Engram said.
From his election watch party at Mission Kitchen Bar in Santa Rosa, Tennenbaum said he was “feeling strong about the outcome.”
“For me to be a relative unknown and to run this campaign and have this success — it’s just amazing,” he said.
Regarding the preliminary results, Tennenbaum said, “Half the people didn't vote for Eddie at this point, and that shows voters want change.”
Edmonds could not immediately be reached for comment.
Kevin Burke, the retired Healdsburg police chief who withdrew from the race after the filing deadline and died suddenly in April, received nearly 9.54% of the votes counted as of Wednesday morning.
Initial results are from early in-person voting and ballots received by Monday. The count did not immediately reflect Tuesday’s in-person votes or all mail-in ballots, which had to be postmarked by Tuesday.
Deva Proto, the county’s election chief, has said she expects countywide turnout of about 50%, which would mean that as many as 100,000 votes could remain uncounted. She had no estimate about the uncounted tally Wednesday morning and said the next batch of results wouldn’t come until Friday.
A candidate must receive over 50% of the total votes cast to avoid a November runoff.
If Engram prevails, he will be the county’s first Black sheriff and one of only a few Black sheriffs statewide. His campaign relied on insider knowledge of Sheriff’s Office operations, including his experience in both law enforcement and detention.
Both Tennenbaum and Edmonds ran campaigns promising change at the Sheriff’s Office. Tennenbaum won the support of most local progressive organizations, focusing on issues of civilian oversight, community engagement and deputy excessive force.
With more than 30 years of experience rising through the ranks of the agency, as well as nearly a decade of nonprofit work in retirement, Edmonds said he was the right candidate to change the “bully culture” among office leadership.
The race to succeed current Sheriff Mark Essick and take the helm of the largest law enforcement agency in the county was one of the most competitive on the midterm ballot. It is only the second contested sheriff’s election for Sonoma County in the past quarter century, and its outcome has been highly anticipated, following years of increased scrutiny of the Sheriff’s Office amid a national reckoning over police misconduct.
You can reach Staff Writer Emily Wilder at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @vv1lder.