The San Francisco Sheriff’s Candidate Debate

From (L-R) Vicki Hennessy and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi Photo by Khaled Sayed

The Sheriff’s candidate debate was hosted at Golden Gate University by the San Francisco League of Women Voters on Oct 12. Two candidates, Vicki Hennessy and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, debated before fewer than 30 people who showed up.

Mirkarimi showed an enthusiastic attitude and energy, while Hennessy seemed more composed. Unlike Mirkarimi she never ran over time answering questions.

Hennessy stated that she is the first women to run for the Sheriff’s office. Born and raised in San Francisco, she joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1975 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the youngest Captain in California Law enforcement in 1983, and Chief Deputy in 1997. Hennessy was interim sheriff of San Francisco and was the city’s first female sheriff. She was appointed interim sheriff by Mayor Ed Lee.

At the debate Hennessy tried to set herself apart from her running mate by stating that she is not a politician but a professional. “I think the biggest difference between us that I’m not a professional politician,” Hennessy said. “I’m somebody who worked in the department for 30 years. I came in the first class that was actively recruiting people of color and lesbians. I have 25 years of executive and management positions both in the San Francisco Sheriff’s department as well as the Department of Emergency Management, so I think that is our biggest difference.”

She added that another difference is that she has experience in providing proactive leadership. “I held myself accountable, I held others accountable and I’ve set examples as a leader. I think that is a very very important,” Hennessy said.

But at one point Hennessy said “I’m sorry can you repeat the question, I wasn’t listening I thought it was his turn to answer.”

Mirkarimi has lived in San Francisco for over 30 years. He served in the military, and was elected the thirty-fifth Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco, sworn into office in 2012. Prior to being elected Sheriff in 2011, he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing District 5, elected in 2004, reelected in 2008. Before that Mirkarimi worked for the San Francisco District Attorney from 1996–2005. He is a graduate from the SF Police Academy, and was class president. He is endorsed by his predecessor Sheriff Mike Hennessey.

Mirkarimi focused his closing statement on the fact that he was the one being endorsed by Sheriff Mike Hennessey. “I view him as a progressive Sheriff,” Mirkarimi said, “who was elected and served 32 years in San Francisco, and he endorsed only myself. He did so in 2011 when he was ready to retire, and does so again. That says a lot because Mike Hennessey was known as an outsider even when he ran for the fourth, fifth and sixth time. But he supported me because he knew that we need to continue to advance the kind of independent and constitutional bright line of protecting our Sheriff’s department.”

John Robinson is the third candidate in the Sheriff race, but he didn’t show up to the debate.

According to his website Robinson lived in San Francisco, California for 65 years. He began working at San Quentin Prison, as a Correctional Officer in 1974, then he was hired by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy, and rose quickly through the ranks. He made Sergeant in 1976, and then Sheriff’s Lieutenant in 1982. Mr. Robinson retired from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in 1994.