Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will not have the support of some 100 ranking members of his department in his bid for re-election in November after the San Francisco Sheriff’s Managers and Supervisors Association on Wednesday endorsed a retired chief deputy.
Union President Lisette Adams said 77 percent of members voted to endorse for sheriff retired Chief Deputy Vicki Hennessy, who worked for 35 years in law enforcement in The City.
“No surprise about the endorsement, they rarely ever endorsed Sheriff Mike Hennessey during his 32 years, even when he ran unopposed,” Mirkarimi told The San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday. “Preserving the integrity of an independent elected sheriff is vital to moving this department forward. I campaigned on that in 2011 and today.”
President Eugene Cherbone of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association, which represent more than 700 deputies, said his union plans to announce an endorsement by the end of March.
The selection by the command staff and supervisors came down to the personal and professional relationships they had with Hennessy, Adams said. Hennessy provided strong direction for the department during her time as interim sheriff in 2012 and as chief deputy before that.
“This is an endorsement of her and not a knock on the current sheriff,” said Adams.
Unlike the senior employees among the command staff and supervisors, Cherbone said many of the deputies are new and did not work with Hennessy.
Adams said about 15 percent of the remaining votes from her members were undecided, while Mirkarimi took only about 7 percent of ballots.
The undecided votes stemmed from those who worried that endorsing Hennessy while Mirkarimi is still sheriff could create an uncomfortable rift within the department, Adams said. But she said the command staff and supervisors functioned through a similar situation when the union did not endorse Mirkarimi in his first election in 2011.
Cherbone said he is hesitant to represent the views of the deputies on the upcoming election since they have yet to be polled, but has heard a number of them take issue with Mirkarimi’s history of domestic abuse.
“If this was happening to police or a deputy they would probably be fired,” Cherbone said. “You can't just say, ‘Let’s forgive him’ and crucify the deputies.”
On the other hand, Cherbone said some deputies are concerned that if Hennessy is elected the department would be more like it was under retired sheriff Hennessey, whom Mirkarimi replaced. Hennessy worked as deputy chief under the former sheriff.
“Mike Hennessey was a nice enough guy, but he never let the department out there to do things,” Cherbone said. “In the past, it seemed like when we wanted to do more outside functions he was never supportive of it. It just didn’t seem like there was focus in the department other than jail and programs.”
Though Cherbone said Hennessy is a supporter of and was involved in the original institution of a City program where deputies transported prisoners to jail, Mirkarimi is credited with the rebirth of the program in the six-month pilot that began last July.
Cherbone said Mirkarimi has made efforts to expand deputies’ duties, unlike Hennessey.
The deputies union is expected to hand out endorsement ballots next week. Since the candidates have yet to announce their official platforms, Cherbone said it is too soon to make an endorsement.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association union also endorsed Hennessy.