Candidate profile: Progressive sheriff’s sergeant running for sheriff

Daily Post Staff Writer

Sgt. Christine Nagaye says that she would de-encrypt police radios if she is elected as Santa Clara County Sheriff, so the public could once again listen to police activity.
“The biggest change, day one, would be addressing transparency right out of the gate,” she said.

Nagaye said that she is the most progressive candidate in the four-way race. She is facing off against Sgt. Sean Allen, Palo Alto police Chief Robert Jonsen and retired sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Jensen. She would give critical race theory training to officers and offer more college classes in the jail.

Nagaye said she is the only candidate working with deputies on the front line in the jail, and she is the only lifelong Democrat. “I am not from the old-school policing that unfortunately my counterparts are,” she said.

Nagaye grew up in Punxsutawney, Philadelphia, where she said not much was expected of young girls. She went college at the University of Pittsburg but dropped out because it was too expensive.

Nagaye’s father was in the Navy, so she joined the Army at age 19. She was a combat medic for five years in Colorado Springs.

Nagaye then moved to Union City and worked for Southwest on the jet ways.

Twenty years ago, she joined the sheriff’s office. She worked as a sergeant for the compliance unit from 2015 to 2018, overseeing six deputies to write department policies and comply with government investigations.

Nagaye currently supervises about 70 people along with two other sergeants at the Elmwood Jail. She lives in San Jose and has three kids.

Fed up

Nagaye, 51, said she’s running because she was fed up with how the sheriff’s office is run. “The sheriff’s office is in dire need of reform,” she said.

Santa Clara County is electing a new sheriff for the first time since 1998. Sheriff Laurie Smith announced her retirement on March 10 because “It would be unfair to the voters of Santa Clara County to force them to make a decision in the middle of a drama not of their making,” she said.

Why sheriff is retiring

Smith is facing a Civil Grand Jury accusation for allegedly giving out concealed carry weapons permits to campaign donors and high-profile people, while not considering applications to others. She is also accused of lying on campaign finance documents about San Jose Sharks tickets she received as a gift, and of stonewalling an investigation into the jail. If she’s convicted, she’ll be removed from office.

Two of Smith’s top deputies, Undersheriff Rick Sung and Capt. James Jensen, were indicted on charges of bribery.

Nagaye said she would do everything she legally could to get bad apples out, and she would give documents on the jail to the police auditor, Mike Gennaco. Smith has refused to give Gennaco documents that explain why an internal investigation into the case of Andrew Hogan was ended without reaching any conclusions. Hogan was a mentally ill inmate who suffered permanent brain damage and was left without care in the back of a jail van.