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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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Santa Clara CountyCandidate for Sheriff

Photo of John Hirokawa

John Hirokawa

Retired County Undersheriff
102,645 votes (32.45%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Create a deep and lasting impact in the fight against domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assaults.
  • Ensure the rights of immigrants so that people can live their lives in our communities free from discrimination.
  • Change the organizational culture from the top down that focuses on integrating and valuing the aspects of integrity, fairness and transparency.



Profession:Retired Santa Clara County Undersheriff
Public Safety Task Force, Chairperson, Saratoga Public Safety Task Force — Appointed position (2017–current)
Santa Clara County Undersheriff, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (2007–2016)
Chief of Correction, Santa Clara County Department of Corrections — Appointed position (2011–2016)
Commander/Assistant Sheriff, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (2006–2007)
Captain, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (2002–2006)
Sheriff’s Captain Acting as the Police Chief of the Contract Cities, Police Department for the Cities of Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Altos Hills — Appointed position (2002–2006)
Lieutenant, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (2001–2002)
Entry Team member, Team Leader and Tactical Commander, Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) — Appointed position (1994–2002)
Sergeant, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (1998–2001)


FBI National Academy Graduated Class 209, Executive Law Enforcement (2002)
San Jose State University Bachelors of Science, Administrative Justice (1980)
San Jose State University Bachelors of Science, Administrative Justice (1980)
San Francisco City College Associate's Degree, Administrative Justice (1977)

Community Activities

Member, Cupertino Rotary (2009–current)
Chairperson, Cupertino Rotary Youth Leadership Award (2011–current)
Board Member, Goodwill Silicon Valley (2010–2015)
Board Member, Santa Clara County Juvenile Detention Reform Committee (1999–2005)
Counselor/Advisor, Sheriff’s Office Youth Summer Camp (1996–2002)


I was first recruited by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office while I was attending San Jose State University to obtain my Bachelors Degree in Administration of Justice. My interest in joining the organization was sparked by my commitment to service above self, and this guided me through the number of positions that I held with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. I was most recently appointed as the second-in-command of the organization as Undersheriff in January 2010, and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors appointed me as the Chief of the Department of Corrections later that year. I held both of these positions until I retired during the summer of 2016.  

Prior to these positions, I worked my way up the ranks of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, having held positions across every level (Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Commander and Undersheriff) that touched almost every aspect of the organization, including patrol, courts, jail administration, detectives, community services and the organization’s Field Enforcement Bureau. I also obtained leadership positions for specialized teams and divisions of the organization. For example, I held a special assignment with the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) for almost a decade, starting as an entry team member, eventually becoming a team leader and the SERT Tactical Commander. I also facilitated the rewriting of protocols and guidelines, as well as hosted trainings for the Honor Guard Unit. Additionally, I was the organization’s Public Information Officer, which is a role that I took on during my time as a Sergeant. I was also appointed as the Police Chief of the cities of Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Altos Hills between the years of 2002 and 2006.

During my career, I received numerous awards that recognized my service to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, including the 2007 Public Safety Officer of the Year Award and the Cupertino Proclamation for Outstanding Service Award. I also played an active role in the community and have spent my time volunteering with a number of community groups. I am currently the chairperson of the Saratoga Public Safety Task Force, an active member of the Cupertino Rotary Club and a chairperson of the Cupertino Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). I was also previously a member of the Goodwill Board of Silicon Valley, counselor/advisor to the Sheriff’s Office Youth Summer Camp and a member of the Santa Clara County Juvenile Detention Reform Committee.  

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (3)

  • The Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • Crime Victims United of California
  • Democratic Activist for Women Now (DAWN)

Individuals (1)

  • Retired Judge Ladoris Cordell

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I registered as a Democratic several years ago when I concluded that the party aligned more with my values and the positions that I have taken regarding various social issues.  However, I do want to note that I will not make decisions as the Sheriff based any political agenda, but rather I will work to do what is best for the organization as a whole and to protect our communities.


At the center of my political compass is the consideration of inclusivity. This stems from my family background, as both of my parents’ families were interned during WWII as Japanese Americans. Growing up, I personally witnessed the repercussions of what my family lost as a result, and I believe that everyone should feel that they can live and work in their communities free from discrimination. Discrimination and harassment based on someone’s gender, race, sexual orientation, disability status and more is not something that I tolerate at any level. Overall, I support policies that are centered around inclusivity and embracing the diversity of everyone’s backgrounds.


Because of this, I have always been committed to consistent collaboration with various community organizations, including labor organizations, educators, religious groups, mental health advocates, immigrant advocates,  LGBTQI advocacy groups, micro-ethnic community groups, etc. It is important that the Sheriff showcase support in protecting the welfare of various communities throughout the county, and not just a select few.


Another issue that is often tied with law enforcement is gun control. Common sense protections including  comprehensive screenings/background checks and increased waiting period for all firearms purchases up to 45 days, are policies that I am in favor of. This also includes ending the background loopholes for relic or antique gun sales at gun shows and creating a comprehensive state and federal database system for the registration of all firearms and armed /prohibited lists. I do not support a full ban of guns, but I do think that we need to be smarter about regulating who purchases them and educating the public on how to safely keep a gun. For example, I support enhanced safe storage laws that would require firearms to be locked in a safe while the owner is not home. There also needs to be better policies in place so that law enforcement can respond quickly when a gun owner is identified as being a potential threat to themselves or others with due process.  

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