SF sheriff faces challenge after killing of Cal Poly grad
November 2, 2015
Following the killing of Cal Poly grad Kathryn Steinle, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is at risk of losing reelection on Tuesday. If Mirkarimi were to lose, he would become the city’s third incumbent sheriff to fail in a reelection bid in the last 60 years. [Mercury News]
On July 1, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time felon who had been deported to Mexico five times, shot and killed Steinle as she was walking with her father on Pier 14 in San Francisco. Earlier in the year, the city sheriff’s department let Lopez-Sanchez out of jail despite receiving a detainer request from ICE.
San Francisco is a sanctuary city with a policy of not turning over inmates to ICE unless federal immigration officials have a warrant.
In March, Mirkarimi allegedly issued an order barring San Francisco jail workers from cooperating with immigration officials on detainer requests. Steinle’s parents are suing Mirkarimi, alleging the order contributed to the death of their daughter.
Since the Steinle killing, a national debate has ensued over illegal immigration. The issue is now a focal point of the San Francisco sheriff race.
Mirkarimi is facing a challenge from retired sheriff’s official Vicki Hennessy. Formerly a chief deputy sheriff and San Francisco’s director of emergency services, Hennesy has raised $286,000. Mirkarimi has only raised $109,000.
Mirkarimi, 54, launched the Green Party in California prior to changing his voter registration to Democratic. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for eight years before becoming sheriff in 2012.
As a supervisor, Mirkarimi introduced the nation’s first plastic bag ban ordinance. While sheriff, Mirkarimi has faced several scandals.
On New Year’s Eve in 2011, Mirkarimi bruised his wife’s arm during an argument. He pleaded guilty in March 2012 to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge and was placed on three year’s probation.
Mirkarimi said the charge was political. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi and tried to remove him from office permanently, but city supervisors rejected the move.
Since the Steinle killing, Mirkarimi has flunked a marksmanship test and has had his driver’s license suspended. The failed marksmanship exam prevents Mirkarimi from carrying a service weapon.
Mirkarimi’s driver’s license was suspended for failing to properly report a minor car accident. The accident occurred while Mirkarimi was driving a city vehicle.
Mirkarimi is endorsed by the previous sheriff, who served for 32 years before retiring in 2011. Mayor Lee and the county jail officers union have endorsed Hennessy.
Hennessy said the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department needs leadership and its credibility restored.
Mirkarimi said he believes in second chances.
“I’m in the redemption industry,” Mirkarimi said.