With Hennessy retiring, Miyamoto jumps into SF sheriff’s race

The chief deputy sheriff is the first major candidate in the running

The first major candidate in the running to succeed retiring Sheriff Vicki Hennessy officially entered the race on Monday.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Paul Miyamoto announced his candidacy during a “low-key” press event at City Hall after filling out paperwork at the Department of Elections. Joined by family and supporters, Miyamoto said he would focus on rebuilding trust with the community if elected in November.

“The fact that the community doesn’t hear about us too often in terms of the good work we do is something that I want to improve on and bring to the forefront,” Miyamoto said.

His announcement comes more than a week after Hennessy announced her decision to retire next year rather than seek re-election. So far, Miyamoto and Lt. Ronald Terry are the only candidates in a largely open race.

Miyamoto has sought the position before. In 2011, he unsuccessfully ran against Ross Mirkarimi in the race to succeed Michael Hennessey, who retired after holding office for more than three decades.

As sheriff, Miyamoto said he would find a solution for the inmate population that is set to be displaced from the crumbling Hall of Justice, and that he would support independent investigations into deputy misconduct.

Like Hennessy, Miyamoto wants to rehabilite a county jail facility in San Bruno to house inmates who would be moved from the Hall of Justice, rather than housing them in Alameda County as others have proposed.

Neither believes the inmate population can be reduced enough to close the Hall of Justice without needing more beds elsewhere.

“We need the resources, we need the funding to make sure that we can come up with the proper solutions to make sure that we can provide a place for the people that we are responsible for,” Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto is also in favor of the Department of Police Accountability investigating complaints filed against deputies, a relationship that Hennessy forged after misconduct allegations surfaced in late 2018.

But Miyamoto stopped short of supporting a proposal from Supervisor Shamann Walton that would create a commission or task force to oversee the disciplinary process and take power away from the elected sheriff.

“I believe that there is a need for transparency in terms of the investigations,” Miyamoto said. “The overarching issue of whether or not we or going to have some sort of commission… I think that’s something we’d want to look at further in a bigger picture, not just our department.”

Miyamoto has not yet announced his endorsements in the race.

Though he and Hennessy share many of the same positions, she has not officially endorsed him as her successor.

Among the supporters in attendance at the press conference was the police sergeant who trained him two decades ago at the San Francisco Police Department Academy.

“He knows the inside and out of how to run the Sheriff’s Department,” said Richard Jue. “I can think of no other qualified candidate.”

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