SAN JOSE — A sergeant is formally entering the political fray and challenging Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith in next year’s election, citing a series of scandals hounding the six-term incumbent in her bid to convince voters that it’s time to change the South Bay’s top cop.

Christine Nagaye, who has spent the past 19 years with the sheriff’s office almost entirely in the custody and jail division, announced the official start of her campaign Thursday, and says she wants to “restore integrity” to an office whose leader Smith has weathered heavy scrutiny in recent months, topped by a unanimous no-confidence vote in Smith passed by the county Board of Supervisors.

“It’s been very disheartening,” Nagaye said in an interview. “I feel responsibility for my community. Integrity is something I hold near and dear to my heart.”

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