But when Vera decided to challenge the sheriff in next year’s election, everything changed. Vera says Villanueva sent him a letter asking him how he could possibly serve as a chief while running against his boss. Last week, the sheriff answered his own question — Vera could not. Villanueva demoted Vera one rank from one of 11 chief positions in the department to commander. He also moved him from the Technology and Support Division to the Court Service Division, considered by some a backwater. ‘Retaliation’ Or A Reasonable Personnel Move? Vera called the move “politically-driven retaliation.” “I think what he wants to do is hurt my campaign in order to bring discredit upon me,” Vera told LAist.