By Luke Thomas
July 18, 2011
Former San Francisco Police Officers Association President Chris Cunnie threw a wrench into the race for sheriff today when he filed to replace retiring Sheriff Michael Hennessey.
With California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Supervisor Scott Weiner by his side, Cunnie said he is running for sheriff because he “feels he is the best candidate right now to come to the table” to address the myriad problems facing the California prison system.
Those problems include prison overcrowding and severe budget cuts which has led to Governor Jerry Brown signing legislation in April mandating the transfer of as many as 1000 inmates from state to municipal prisons.
“We’re entering a new landscape, a new critical time in criminal justice in San Francisco and California,” he said. “We know that the United States Supreme Court just confirmed what we’ve known for a long time – that the California prison system is broke.”
“What that means is that that problem is going to come right here to our doorstep,” Cunnie added. “This is a time for public safety, community and for the non-profits to come together like we’ve never done before.”
Harris, who employed Cunnie as the department’s Chief of Investigations during her 7-year stint as San Francisco District Attorney before being elected Attorney General, said of Cunnie: “I am standing here today with an incredible amount of pride in support of Chris Cunnie to become the next Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco. I am certain that we have an incredible opportunity in San Francisco to have a leader who will not only represent San Francisco and its public safety needs, but will represent what it means to do smart criminal justice work, what it means to reforms the criminal justice system in a way that will have an impact throughout the State of California.”
Supervisor Scott Weiner, who is considered a moderate conservative on the Board, said he is supporting Cunnie because, “We need a sheriff who is going to be able to hit the ground running, running this department, and I know Chris will be able to do that.”
Cunnie, a former SFPD officer who also worked as a sheriff in the municipal prison system under Sheriff Hennessey, joins Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Sheriff’s Captain Paul Miyamoto in the contest.
Mirkarimi, who was previously considered the frontrunner candidate in the race, garnered the early endorsement of retiring Sheriff Hennessey in May. Today, Hennessey indicated he will not dual endorse in the ranked choice race despite a close relationship with Cunnie.
Cunnie told FCJ that in addition to being endorsed by Harris and Weiner, he has or will be endorsed by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the firefighters union.