Candidate for Santa Clara County sheriff drops out of crowded race
Dave Knopf, former assistant chief of the San Jose Police Department, recently filed papers to run for Santa Clara County sheriff. Photo courtesy of Knopf.

One candidate vying for the Santa Clara County sheriff spot is dropping out just weeks after filing papers to run.

Dave Knopf, former assistant chief of the San Jose Police Department, told San José Spotlight he’s quitting the race. Knopf said he wanted to take on the challenges of the office, but believes it would be a “miserable” experience.

“It’s just the political process itself,” Knopf said. “It’s a grind and your heart and soul have to be in it 110%. Those that have done this understand.”

It’s a surprising move, as Knopf filed his papers to run in December. Knopf worked at SJPD from 1992 through 2021, becoming assistant chief of police in 2016. He served as acting chief briefly after former Police Chief Eddie Garcia retired. Garcia, who previously applauded Knopf for running, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Knopf was the first non-sheriff personnel to enter the race, but didn’t see this as a disadvantage. He claimed his experience in the police department adequately prepared him for the job, and that he would focus on improving transparency and morale in the department.

Four other candidates are still officially in the race: retired sheriff Captain Kevin Jensen, Sergeant Christine Nagaye, Palo Alto Police Chief Robert Jonsen and sheriff Sergeant Sean Allen, who filed his papers earlier this month.

Sheriff Laurie Smith, who has held the job since 1998, has not said whether she will run for another term. She is currently facing a civil rights investigation from the California Attorney General’s Office and an accusation filed by a civil grand jury that accuses her of corrupt misconduct. The Board of Supervisors voted no confidence in her performance managing the jail system last year.

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter. 

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