Some Coachella Valley Democrats are Unimpressed with Sheriff Bianco

In November 2018, then-Lt. Chad Bianco netted 323,671 votes, or 58%, of the 555,321 votes cast for Riverside County Sheriff to oust incumbent Sheriff Stan Sniff from office. Both men were Republicans, which meant not a lot of Democrats were focused on the hard-fought race. More then two years later, some Democrats have their eyes turned on the man running the office and, suffice it to say, they are unimpressed with Sheriff Bianco.

Many take umbrage with the manner in which Bianco has handled the pandemic, mask mandates, and more.

Sheriff Bianco declined to be interviewed for this story. Joy Miedecke, president of East Valley Republican Women Federated, which has more than 300 members and is the largest of its kind in the state, also declined to be interviewed. Bianco was scheduled to be the guest speaker at the group’s recent luncheon but contracted COVID-19 and was unable to attend.

Dori Smith

Dori J. Smith

Earlier this month, Dori J. Smith, a Palm Desert resident and president of Democrats of the Desert, took an informal poll of Democratic leaders in the Coachella Valley. While Smith said she can’t speak for all Democratic leaders in the Valley, she said, “I think it’s fair to say that Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco has very little support among Democrats and progressives. He comes across as arrogant and doesn’t seem to be receptive to scientific facts, reason, or community concerns.”

She is so unimpressed with Sheriff Bianco that she wants the city of Palm Desert to abandon its contract with the Sheriff’s Department, and form its own police department.

“I personally believe that Sheriff Bianco – an elected official – has made Riverside County more dangerous since he’s been in office, versus making our communities safer,” Smith told Uken Report. “Let me count the ways he has done so (the ones I’m aware of; there may be many more).”

Smith alleges that:

  • Sheriff Bianco’s department has actively contributed to the spread of COVID-19 virus by not enforcing public-health requirements set up by Riverside County and the State of California and by publicly announcing the department would not follow the requirements, essentially encouraging residents and business owners to ignore the rules.
  • Sheriff Bianco’s department has actively contributed to the spread of COVID-19 because he did not order his deputies to wear masks as they go out into the community; and by refusing to change protocols in the County jails.  So,residents, prisoners, guards and other jail personnel have been subjected to a higher risk of catching COVID.
  • After George Floyd’s murder, some County Supervisors asked him to conduct a review of the department’s policies and procedures, especially “use of force.” He refused. Then he backpedaled, and said he’d set up a community taskforce do so.  “As far as I know – and I’ve checked with community leaders – he has done ZERO to set up this task force and get to work on this HUGE issue.  So County residents have NO idea whether Sheriff’s deputies are or will inappropriately use force,” Smith said.
  • The Sheriff seems proud that since he took office the number of Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits has increased to more than 9,000 (an estimated 6,000 MORE under his guidance). “With more guns on the street, our communities are much more dangerous.”

“Everyone should be concerned when the highest law-enforcement officer in Riverside County picks and chooses which state laws or orders he will enforce,” Smith said. “I find him arrogant and am concerned that he believes he should have little or no oversight by the County Supervisors.”

This is not the first time some Democrats have expressed their concern in regard to the sheriff.

In December, the Democrats of the Desert Board of Directors & Palm Desert Greens Democratic Club Board of Directors sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors saying that Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco is “arrogant, non-compliant and negligent,” In the letter, the Democratic groups implored supervisors to censure Bianco.

The only supervisor to respond was Kevin Jeffries, according to Smith. In an email, he stated, “As you already know, the County Sheriff is directly elected and accountable to ALL the voters of Riverside County. And as you acknowledge, the elected Sheriff does NOT report to nor receive direction from the Board of Supervisors.”

When Smith recently called Supervisor Perez’s office to inquire about his response, Smith said she was told he “intends” to send it. She has yet to receive anything.

When Uken Report reached out to Perez’s office in December when he first received the censure request, his chief of staff, in a text message, wrote, “We r working on it. Should have something to u later today,”

It never arrived.

This is likely not the last time a core group of Democrats will speak out against Bianco. Some are already hunting for a candidate to challenge Bianco in 2022.

“Sadly, it seems many residents do not pay attention to the Sheriff’s election,” Smith said.  “Many Democrats will be doing so next year when Chad Bianco has to run for re-election.”

While a core group of Democrats have been vocal, they might not represent the majority of all voters in Riverside County.

Uken Report has confirmed that an independent professional public opinion survey of Riverside County voters conducted December 11-13, 2020 reveals Sheriff Chad Bianco has one of the highest favorability ratings of all County elected officials.  The telephone survey also shows tremendous public support for Bianco’s ignoring the Governor’s mandates and high support for elected officials who support Bianco’s COVID-related actions.

That could explain why supervisors are reluctant to speak out against him.

Image Sources

  • Dori Smith: Dori Smith
  • Sheriff Chad Bianco: FOX 11 / (Used with permission)