Overheard in Fog City: Interim Mayor Michael Hennessey?

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on January 03, 2011 with 3 Comments

Sheriff Michael Hennessey. Photo by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas


January 3, 2011

Though it is next to impossible to predict who will be appointed interim Mayor of San Francisco to replace Lt. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Sheriff Michael Hennessey may be the most likely candidate who can get six votes tomorrow.

Following discussions with progressive and centrist Board members today, what is becoming clear is no sitting Board member can get to six votes (supervisors cannot vote for themselves). Attention is now centered on a compromise “caretaker” candidate, someone who does not intend to exploit their interim-mayoral status to run for mayor, who will focus on closing the city’s projected $350 million budget shortfall and, more importantly, someone who is respected on all sides of the political aisle, including Newsom.

That someone, it appears, is Hennessey, a non-ideological pragmatist who would likely retire from politics when a new mayor is elected at large in November. Hennessey was first elected in 1979 and holds the distinction of being the longest tenured sheriff in the State of California. He has never received less than 80 percent of the vote.

Expect Hennessey to get six or more votes from Supervisors David Campos, Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier, Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos and, possibly, Chris Daly.

Should Hennessey be appointed interim mayor, he will be in a position to appoint his replacement. He may also be in a position, if Newsom has not already done so, to appoint someone to the Office of District Attorney to replace Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and top deputy Chris Cunnie are likely candidates to replace Hennessey. Should Mirkarimi get the nod, Hennessey will be required by charter to appoint a replacement to the District 5 seat.

If the current Board fails to appoint an interim mayor tomorrow, the new Board, seated on Saturday (January 8), will be in a position to appoint Newsom’s replacement. Should the new Board fail to appoint an interim mayor, whoever is elected Board President (first order of business) will remain acting mayor until November.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Interim Mayor Michael Hennessey? are now closed.

  1. seej,

    Hennessey is also the best sheriff in the country. He’s told me he’d support an elected Police Chief. Imagine a top cop who’d have to put actual Foot Patrols on the pavement.

    He was also first in his class (following Hongisto, his mentor – all from Minnesota) to hire female deputies and gay deputies. He had first school in jails in country and first jail built totally round so that deputies can see all (avoids shower rape).

    We could do a hell of a lot worse and Newsom has already said Hennessey’s OK with him.

    This could all be over this afternoon.


  2. Aileen Alfenderry reported on this morning’s KPFA News that Gavin Newsom’s decision to hang on means the new Board, not the old Board, will make the decisions.

  3. Good grief. This guy Hennessey is the best the City can do?? He wrote a letter to the SF Examiner flat out lying about the amount the consequences of Prop B on his cadets (saying their health care contributions would increase $5,000 a year). So a dishonest, math-challenged sheriff is the best the City can do?

    Let’s start with someone with credibility on budget matters…