Former police Chief Heather Fong endorses Chris Cunnie for sheriff 

Candidate for San Francisco sheriff Chris Cunnie picked up a couple of high-profile endorsements in Chinatown this morning from former police Chief Heather Fong and retired Judge Harry Low.

In a news conference at the historic Portsmouth Square, Cunnie — a former cop as well as undersheriff — emphasized his connection to the Chinatown area, where he said his father lived for many years and Cunnie worked at the Central police station.

“I’ve been around this community my whole life,” Cunnie said.

Cunnie “has given me so much guidance over the years,” said Fong, who was police chief from 2004 to 2009, adding that he “understands the importance of being tough on crime and yet being compassionate and working with the community.”

Cunnie’s more than 30-year career includes work as a beat officer, president of the police union, head of investigations for the District Attorney’s Office, board member of the substance abuse treatment center Walden House, and undersheriff for current Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who is retiring after 30 years on the job.

“My relationships, I think, make me a qualified person to do the job,” he said. “There’s not going to be a learning curve with me.”

Low — a former superior court judge, state appeals court presiding justice and state insurance commissioner — said Cunnie was well-qualified to handle coming state realignment of some prisoners back to county jails, and coordinate with community groups and services.

Cunnie is competing with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and sheriff’s Capt. Paul Miyamoto for the job in November.

The sheriff oversees the county’s six jails, as well as security at City Hall, public hospitals and the superior courthouses. The department has a budget of about $171.5 million.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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