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AG Bonta Mulls Opinion on When Fresno County Sheriff & DA Will Be Elected
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 31, 2024

State AG Rob Bonta (left) and Fresno EOC CEO Emilia Reyes hosted a gun violence prevention roundtable in Fresno on Thursday, May 30, 2024. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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The next election date for Fresno County sheriff and district attorney are on the radar of the California Attorney General, and the will of the voters may be in jeopardy.

In the March election, county voters approved Measure A with 55% of the vote. The measure reversed a 2022 state law setting the next election for the county’s top two law enforcement positions.

Elections for sheriff and DA had been held in years when the governor is elected (non-presidential years, 2026, 2030, etc.), but the 2022 law changed it to presidential primaries (2028, 2032, etc.) with the goal to increase voter turnout.

Presidential primaries generally draw better than non-presidential elections.

Placed on the ballot by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, voters agreed to change it back — with the next election in 2026 instead of 2028.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he has been apprised of the voters’ decision.

“We’re looking at the issue. When we have something to announce, if anything, we will. But that is an issue that we have focused on … for some time,” Bonta said.

Bonta appeared in Fresno on Thursday, hosting a roundtable discussion about gun violence prevention.

The voters’ action could conflict with AB 759. The law exempted counties that set their election dates by Jan. 1, 2021 — something Fresno County did not do.

Last October, the Fresno City Council — through City Attorney Andrew Janz — asked Bonta for his opinion on the county measure.

Bonta said his office will “take action when we’ve come to a conclusion.”

Smittcamp, Zanoni Already Fundraising

If AB 759 remains in place, DA Lisa Smittcamp and Sheriff John Zanoni would have a one-time-only six year term, with the next election in 2028.

Smittcamp raised $279,900 in 2023, campaign finance records show. She won her third term in 2022. She started her re-election paperwork prior to Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the date-change law into effect.

Zanoni raised $106,650 in 2023. He won his first term in 2022.

He filed his re-election campaign paperwork prior to the governor approving the law. Initially filed for 2026, Zanoni has since amended his campaign paperwork to run in 2028.

No other candidate for either race has filed paperwork to raise funds.

Bonta Deflects on Campus Protest Question

GV Wire also asked Bonta about ongoing protests on state college campuses.

At UC Santa Cruz, the school went to online only teaching when pro-Palestinian protesters blocked entrances to the university.

And, on Friday, police in riot gear surrounded arm-in-arm protesters at the university to remove an encampment of protesters. Eighty people were arrested, the university said.

At UCLA and other campuses, protesters stormed buildings and organized tent encampments in the main campus thoroughfare. Law enforcement broke them up.

Bonta focused on hate crimes, rather than holding protesters accountable, in his answer.

“We’re taking on the forces of hate. We’re taking on hate crimes and hate incidents. We’re making sure that every Californian, regardless of who you are, where you’re from, how you pray, how you look, is safe from hate crimes,” Bonta said.

Pressed about actions of the protesters, Bonta referred again to hate crimes, working with district attorneys.

“We focused on preventing hate, from turning from hate incidents to hate crimes. We will continue to focus on it, whether it be anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, hate against any community. That’s the lane that we are working on to make sure community members in California are safe,” Bonta said.

He made similar remarks earlier this month, addressing the Jewish Political Action Committee of California, at a Sacramento lunch speech.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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