Crime - Sacto 911

Yolo sheriff bows out rather than run against one of his own

Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto speaks about an arrest on Feb. 28, 2014 in Woodland, California.
Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto speaks about an arrest on Feb. 28, 2014 in Woodland, California.

Yolo County Sheriff-Coroner Ed Prieto backed out of the sheriff’s race Monday morning, signaling an end to his 20-year tenure as the county’s top cop.

Instead, Prieto says he wants to shift his focus to his quality of life and spending time with his family. He also wanted to avoid a “contentious campaign” between him and another department-bred candidate, he said.

“The interest of the department and the people of Yolo County we serve must come first,” he said. “With the emerging candidates, I am confident that the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department is well-positioned with a strong executive team to continue to grow and excel.”

Tom Lopez, the current Yolo County undersheriff, is also running for the sheriff’s seat. A third sheriff-hopeful, John L. Jackson, a correctional education administrator, is also listed as a candidate on the Yolo County elections website.

Prieto’s unchallenged re-election in 2014 marked his fifth term as sheriff. The Daily Democrat reported in October that Prieto intended to run for a sixth term.

He was first elected in 1998 after a 31-year career with the California Highway Patrol, where he rose to the rank of commander.

During Prieto's tenure, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department has “become a progressive, modern organization,” said a press release sent out last month in celebration his 50th anniversary in law enforcement. Patrol cars are now equipped with dash cameras as well as in-car computers.

The department has faced some controversy under Prieto's leadership, including a 2014 grand jury report that said Prieto ran his office like the “Wild, Wild West,” finding a years-long record of intimidation, harassment and nepotism.

Early last month, a former Yolo deputy settled a lawsuit against the county in which she claimed Prieto kissed her on the lips and gave her at least 100 unwanted hugs. Victoria Zetwick, a retired deputy who served 24 years in the department, settled the lawsuit for a $98,000 payment.