Retired Healdsburg police chief Kevin Burke withdraws from Sonoma County sheriff’s race

Kevin Burke said in a statement Monday afternoon that he was withdrawing "for reasons related to my health and in consultation with my family, friends, and personal physician.“|

Kevin Burke, the retired Healdsburg Police chief and Sonoma County Democratic Party favorite, has dropped out of the race for Sonoma County sheriff.

In a Monday afternoon statement, Burke said he made the decision to withdraw "for reasons related to my health and in consultation with my family, friends, and personal physician.“

It “was an extremely difficult decision for me,” Burke, 55, said in a text Monday afternoon. “But decided (to) follow the advice of family, friends and my doctors and focus on my health for a bit. I’m extremely grateful to all those who supported my campaign.”

His announcement came just two days before Wednesday’s filing deadline for new candidates in the June election.

The candidates still on the ballot include Sonoma County Assistant Sheriff Eddie Engram, former Sonoma County Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Edmonds and former San Francisco Police Sgt. Carl Tennenbaum.

Though Burke was the last candidate to join the crowded field, his campaign boasted a number of notable supporters and promising fundraising numbers early on.

The Sonoma County Democratic Party, which endorsed Burke in January, said on Facebook Monday, “While we are sad to hear this development, we are sending wishes of good health moving forward for Kevin Burke.”

His endorsements also included those of Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers, Santa Rosa City Council members Tom Schwedhelm, John Sawyer and Victoria Fleming, District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, and Healdsburg Mayor Ozzy Jimenez.

“While this is one of the most difficult personal decisions I have confronted, I am profoundly grateful for the incredible support you have shown this campaign in the past two months,” Burke said in Monday’s statement. “I am humbled by the sheer number of Sonoma County residents who share the vision of inclusive and transparent law enforcement for our community. While I am unable to continue, I am honored to have had you in my corner.”

Burke’s platform focused on the issues of community engagement, disaster preparedness and oversight. He said his experience leading the local police department from 2011-21, his background in law, including years working as a prosecutor, and his management of the 2019 Kincade fire set him apart from the rest.

Democratic Party Chair Pat Sabo told The Press Democrat that the news came as a surprise.

“I’m disappointed,” Sabo said. “We were very pleased to be able to endorse and support him in this race because we truly feel he is the best candidate.”

The party may consider reopening endorsement considerations, though only candidates who are registered Democrats are eligible for its seal of approval. Of the three remaining, only Tennenbaum is a registered Democrat.

You can reach Staff Writer Emily Wilder at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @vv1lder.

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