Just 64 votes separated Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell Jr., the top two finishers in the Democratic primary for Orange County Sheriff.

There were six candidates, and since neither Blackwell nor Caldwell received 40 percent of the vote (Blackwood got 30.37 percent to Caldwell’s 29.96 percent), they will, figuratively speaking, duel it out in a second primary.

Whoever wins, it will be the first new sheriff in 32 years. Longtime lawman Lindy Pendergrass, at 80, has decided to retire the badge..We are endorsing David Caldwell Jr. as the person to succeed Pendergrass.

We appreciate Caldwell’s broad professional background, which includes law enforcement, military service and social justice advocacy. (Now retired, Caldwell is the director of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association.) We are pleased to see Caldwell, an African-American, putting significant emphasis on the recruitment of minority deputies. We are equally pleased with his concern for environmental justice, community organization and social class divides. The sheriff’s office is seeing upticks in calls for service, and Caldwell seeks to beef up reserve units. He also recognizes the need for more community outreach.

Caldwell’s opponent is Charles Blackwood, a retired sheriff’s operations chief with a management pedigree. He is a quality candidate, but we chose Caldwell for his law enforcement background and solid relationships with the community, essential for building trust between citizens and the police.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Caldwell for OC Sheriff”