Sonoma County sheriff candidate and Santa Rosa City Councilman Ernesto Olivares stood up to the National Rifle Association and has refused to seek its endorsement. In a March 2018 letter to the official California chapter of this organization, he asserted that its agenda “exacerbates the gun violence facing California and our entire country.”

Olivares is adamant that our gun laws are inadequate. He rejects the NRA’s appeal to drop the standards on concealed weapon requirements. He is for an assault weapons ban, maintaining that only the military and law enforcement have need for such weapons. And he is a strong proponent of more comprehensive background checks.

We’re not surprised by his stand. Olivares has dedicated his entire career to public safety and violence prevention. And that passion and experience make him the most qualified candidate for sheriff.

He brings a vast and varied reservoir of knowledge for the job of sheriff, starting with 30 years as a police officer. He retired as a police lieutenant in 2008 after serving as manager of Santa Rosa’s gang prevention and intervention services. In that role, he coordinated and implemented the city’s first-ever comprehensive violence prevention plan.

In 2008, he was elected to the Santa Rosa City Council, and he was recently elected to a third term. As a council member, he served as Santa Rosa’s first Latino mayor. And throughout these years, he has expanded his work in violence prevention to communities throughout the country.

Currently, Olivares is executive director of the California Cities Violence Prevention Network. He works to provide training and technical assistance to cities for their violence prevention strategic plans. He has served cities such as Long Beach, Watsonville, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, to name just a few.

In addition, he has worked with agencies and cities to help build law enforcement and community trust, an issue that is so critical today.

His list of awards and recognition is too long for this column. Check them out on his official website,

Olivares knows law enforcement and community policing inside and out. He understands how government works. He’s an expert in strategic planning and implementation. And as a Latino, he personifies the critically important need for diversity in the leadership of our Sheriff’s Office.

In addition, Olivares brings something equally, if not more important, to the job: his passion for keeping communities healthy and safe. We know his dedication firsthand through our work with him on the Santa Rosa City Council. That’s why we are urging you to vote for him June 5.

Jane Bender is a former mayor of Santa Rosa. John Sawyer is a member of the Santa Rosa City Council.