Sheriff candidate Christine Nagaye aims to reform in campaign

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly listed former Santa Clara County sheriff’s captain Kevin Jensen as “Kevin Jensin.” Additionally, Jensen has since responded to The Paly Voice’s request for comment. 

Sergeant Christine Nagaye speaks about her campaign as a Santa Clara County Sheriff candidate to Palo Alto High School students Friday morning in the Media Arts Center. According to Nagaye, she aims to completely reform the Sheriff’s department to help better serve communities. “Policing as a whole throughout the entire country has failed to reach out to the communities,” Nagaye said. “And that is where we are lacking: the people in the communities don’t trust us anymore.” (Photo: Leena Hussein)

Running for Santa Clara County Sheriff, Sgt. Christine Nagaye is focusing on increasing accountability as part of her campaign which she presented to Palo Alto High School students Friday morning in the Media Arts Center.

Santa Clara County sheriff Laurie Smith was accused of multiple counts of corruption by a civil grand jury in December, and is not running for re-election. Nagaye said she wants to radically change the Sheriff’s office to free it from widespread corruption and dishonesty. 

“I want to make one hundred, complete reforms of our sheriff’s office so we can make a great impact for the entire country,” Nagaye said. “That’s it [my plan] in a nutshell.”

Nagaye was motivated to challenge the injustices within the community by running for Sheriff when she watched the Black Lives Matter movement arise in 2020. Although she said she has less executive experience compared to other candidates, Nagaye said Nagaye’s moral character is what qualifies her for this position. 

“I’m completely transparent,” Nagaye said. “Whatever you see is what you get, I speak the truth. … I am not a politician, I’ve never had political aspirations.”

According to Nagaye, her experience in the United States Army as a combat medic made her value honesty and transparency above all else.

“From day one when you start basic training, they talk about honesty and integrity,” Nagaye said. “They’re in your face.”

Consistent communication between the Santa Clara County sheriff’s office and the community is the beginning of a long-overdue plan for reform, Nagaye said.

“Meeting with community leaders and recreating that bond and getting to know each other again would be our first step,” Nagaye said.

Nagaye also said she will emphasize a merit-based approach for hiring and promotions in the sheriff’s office.

“There’ll be no favoritism, there’ll be no nepotism — that is out the window,” Nagaye said. “You have to be completely transparent to face the corruption and to deal with the corruption as it stands.”

According to Nagaye, one of the main challenges Santa Clara County currently faces is the fentanyl crisis. 

“One gram of fentanyl can kill everyone in this room,” Nagaye said. “It’s extremely dangerous and you need to be careful when you’re around it.”

Nagaye expressed her concern for the matter, saying she hopes to collaborate with specialists to help oppose the fentanyl crisis. 

“We would have to gather opinions and gather our subject matter experts in that area with fentanyl, and I know it would require working with the FBI,” Nagaye said. 

The Paly Voice and four Paly classes also met with sheriff candidate Sgt. Sean Allen on April 27 in the MAC and reported on the meeting on social media

Besides Nagaye and Allen, the other Santa Clara County sheriff candidates are Anh Colton, Kevin Jensen, and Robert Jonsen, who did not respond to The Paly Voice’s request for comment.