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Hennessy unseats Mirkarimi, returns as sheriff

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Vicki Hennessy looks at election results on her phone with long-time supporter Sunny Schwartz. (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F .Examiner)

There is a new sheriff in town.

Vicki Hennessy won 61 percent of the vote Tuesday night.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who fought against the odds to stay in office, failed in his bid to keep his badge and his office as San Francisco’s sheriff.

Sheriff-elect Hennessy, who has never held an elected office, will step into the role she only briefly held as interim sheriff back in 2012 after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the position during Mirkarimi’s absence.

But the longtime deputy, who has never sold herself as a politician, is betting her support from the deputy’s union and city leaders will make life much easier as she takes charge of The City’s jail system.

“I never thought I would run for office,” said the San Francisco native. “It feels like I’ve worked hard for it.”

When asked about becoming The City’s first elected woman sheriff, Hennessy downplayed the honor.

“It probably feels like anyone else being elected,” she said, noting that she had previously climbed far up the ladder of the department.

Eugene Cerbone, San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association president, said he was thrilled with the outcome.

“We are very excited that there will be a change in leadership,” he said at Hennessey’s election party.

Now, Cerbone added, deputies will have a seat at the table instead of being ignored. He said that with Hennessy as sheriff, the deputies’ morale is bound to improve since they feel their concerns are gonna be heard.

For Mirkarimi, who came into office as a supervisor in the progressive wave of 2000, his defeat may mark the final chapter to his nearly two-decade career in elected office. While his time as sheriff has been overshadowed by the domestic violence scandal which marred his 2012 election, Mirkarimi has spent much of his adult life enmeshed in city politics.

“I’ve been honored and grateful to serve San Francisco,” said Mirkarimi, who said he wasn’t sure what the future holds for him. He added, “I doubt it will have anything to do with the Ed Lee administration.”

As the dismal election results poured in for Mirkarimi, a handful of supporters gathered over margaritas at Puerto Alegra in the Mission.

“We really had a great surge in the last few weeks,” Mirkarimi said.

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