Current County Sheriff Bill Brown has held the position since 2007 and is seeking re-election in the June 7 Primary Election, while Lieutenant Juan Camarena is looking to bring new leadership to law enforcement in Santa Barbara County.
Camarena says changes are needed within the current operation of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
"Currently, the sheriff's office has been stagnant and reactive, and we need to be proactive," he said.
He grew up in Santa Maria and says his connections and experiences give him a deeper understanding of the different needs throughout the county.
"I’m running to rebuild the trust between the community and law enforcement, reduce crime, improve our technology to make the sheriff’s office accountable and be more transparent," Camarena added.
He says he has received much support throughout his campaign, citing numerous organizations in the region that are backing his quest to become the new county sheriff.
"I have been endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Association, the Santa Barbara Police Officer's Association and the Tri-County PORAC, which is a Peace Officers Research Association of California which represents about 76,000 officers throughout the state of California," he told KSBY.
Meantime, incumbent Bill Brown says his tenure as county sheriff for over a decade gives him an edge in his pursuit for re-election.
"I am seeking re-election because I believe the sheriff’s office needs experience and proven leadership during these difficult and uncertain times," Sheriff Brown said.
He says his accomplishments during his last term make him ready to tackle the goals he has laid out if elected for a new one.
"In my next term, what I want to do is continue to make progress as we have done in how we rehabilitate people who commit crimes who are in our jail, how we keep mentally ill people out of jail, how we help people who have substance abuse and addiction issues," he said.
Sheriff Brown points to his recent launch of Project Opioid, as well as the opening of the Northern Branch Jail, as key feats of his recent term that have fueled his bid to continue serving as sheriff.
"I ask the people to recognize that now is not the time to change leadership in the Sheriff's Office. Now is the time to keep the leadership that is there and with the community's support, we will continue to do a lot more," Sheriff Brown stated.