By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Assemblymember Jim Cooper’s quest to become Sacramento County’s first African American sheriff is within reach, based on early returns from the June 7 primary election.

Unofficially, Cooper leads Undersheriff Jim Barnes with 54.9 % of the unofficial vote tally (52,277). Barnes had 45.0% (43,376) of the votes.

All contests are subject to change, the county registrar’s office said. Mail-in and dropbox ballots are still pouring in, said Janna Haynes, county public information manager. She added in an email to The OBSERVER that the county has a week to process ballots as long as they are postmarked no later than June 7. 

If the margin stabilizes, Cooper could avoid a runoff with Barnes in the November general election. Depending on the outcome, the former sheriff captain with nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience is in a strong position to make Sacramento County history.

Members of his campaign said he would make a full statement to the local media once more results are produced. Cooper could follow in the steps of Daniel Hahn, who was Sacramento’s chief of police from August 2017 to December 2021.

After a successful tenure in the Assembly, former Elk Grove mayor Cooper could have an opportunity to change the culture of a department that has 1,250 sworn personnel and a civilian force of 660. Cooper ran in 2010, losing to outgoing Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican who as of June 8 was a distant third in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat, according to election results provided by the office of Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber.

Kermit Jones, an African American Democrat, leads District 3 balloting with 39.4% (35,253) to Scott Jones’ 17% (15,212 votes). Jones is likely to face Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Sacramento) in a runoff in November. Kiley is second with 36.5% of the votes (32,665) and 476 of 506 precincts reporting.

Scott Jones and Barnes both have made public their allegiance to former President Donald Trump. Jones, elected in 2010 and reelected in ’14 and ’18, endorsed Barnes as his successor.

Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho will make history as well. The Asian American currently leads African American Alana Mathews in the race for district attorney by a wide margin and will likely avoid a runoff.

Ho had 59% of the votes (56,824) just after midnight June 8 while Mathews was at 40% (39,364). Ho was endorsed by the current D.A., Anne Marie Schubert, whose bid to become state attorney general is in deep trouble.

Schubert, the Republican-turned-independent candidate, sits fifth with 7.5% of the votes (250,645). Incumbent Rob Bonta has a comfortable lead with 54.5% of the votes (1,819,190).

Schubert was hedging her bet on her success in putting the Golden State Killer behind bars and not filing charges against the two Sacramento cops who killed Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard in March 2018. Clark had nothing but a cellphone on his person.

On Wednesday, without making a declaration, Schubert alluded to surrending her candidacy.

“To all my supporters, donors, and endorsers who helped me spread our message of enforcing the law and stopping chaos in California’s criminal justice system, thank you,” Schubert posted June 8 on Twitter.

Sacramento City Council District 3 – Karina Talamantes leads African American and nonprofit operator Michael Lynch for the seat formerly held by Jeff Harris. Harris’s residence was penciled out of the redrawn district, forcing him from office.

Unofficially, Talamentes, a Sacramento County school board trustee, has 48.5% of the votes (1,417) to Lynch’s 40.3% (1,176). Adrianne Gonzales is third with 11.0% (323). If Talamantes or Lynch cannot obtain 50% or more of the votes, they will meet in a November runoff.

Sacramento County Board of Supervisors District 2 – Duke Cooney’s effort to unseat incumbent Patrick Kennedy basically was over when the polls closed. Kennedy has a commanding 77.0% of the votes (11,072). Cooney has 22.8% of the count (3,278).

Superior Court Judge Office No. 4 – Myrlys Stockdale Coleman is poised to be elected to the Sacramento County Superior Court as she leads opponent Noel A. Calvillo by more than 20,000 votes. As of presstime, Stockdale has garnered 62% of the votes (55,802). Calvillo has received 37% (33,432) of the votes.