Mirkarimi Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign for Sheriff

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on May 17, 2015 with 23 Comments

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi addresses supporters during his re-election campaign kickoff, 5/13/15, held at Delancey Street. Photos by Luke Thomas.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi addresses supporters during his re-election campaign kickoff, 5/13/15, held at Delancey Street. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

May 17, 2015

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi officially kicked off his campaign for re-election Wednesday, vowing to build upon the progressive reforms of his predecessor while continuing to advance a progressive criminal justice vision of his own.

Held at the communal compound of Delancey Street, a leading national residential self-help organization, the event drew as many as 300+ supporters of varied backgrounds and stripes, including former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, former California Senator Carole Migden, Democratic Party icon Jane Morrison, former San Francisco Supervisor John Molinari and former Tower of Power lead singer Rick Stevens, among others.

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Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Jane Morrison and Eliana Lopez.

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos.

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos.

Former Senator Carole Migden.

Former California Senator Carole Migden.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi greets former Tower of Power lead singer Rick Stevens.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi greets former Tower of Power lead singer Rick Stevens.

Referring to the celebrated legacy of former Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who has endorsed Mirkarimi for re-election, Mirkarimi said, “We must not forget what it means to have a progressive sheriff. I make no apologies that I’m not part of any machine – and I’ve always been independent,” a subtle dig at his opponent, Vicki Hennessy (no relation to Michael Hennessey), who is challenging Mirkarimi with the tacit support of Mayor Ed Lee, who failed in his bid to oust Mirkarimi over charges of official misconduct relating to a domestic dispute with his wife, Eliana Lopez, one week before Mirkarimi was sworn into office.

“Admittedly I had a bad start,” Mirkarimi said, referring to the altercation that triggered an avalanche of political and legal troubles for the Mirkarimi-Lopez family. “The lessons learned… I cannot begin to tell you how that experience has informed me, how it has shaped me, and how it has made me a better man, a better husband, and a better sheriff.”

His contrition was received with enthusiastic applause and whistles.

In the three years since he was reinstated to office following his suspension by Mayor Ed Lee and surviving a Board vote over his ousting, Mirkarimi said he has set about to implement progressive reforms that have resulted in marked recidivism rate reduction through education, skills development and post-incarceration job placement. Mirkarimi’s policies have, despite state realignment, resulted in one of the lowest jail populations per county capita in the State of California, an achievement which has drawn praise and recognition from the Governor Jerry Brown administration.

Working with non-profit organizations, Mirkarimi said, “Our focus has been about recidivism, about bettering people’s lives and making sure offenders don’t return back to jail.”

“Over a year ago we achieved a significant milestone where we have a growing client base on alternatives to incarceration programs that equal or exceed our in-custody population,” Mirkarimi told FCJ. “The cost savings are considerable, both in tax dollars and reductions to public safety risks. Costs comparisons for alternative non-custody programs ranges from $10,000-30,000 per year compared to $60,000 per year for jail. Our jail population today is less than 1,200. Similarly, our alternate non-custody population is over 1,100. Our original jail capacity is 2,450 but that has declined considerably since 2013 when I shut down County Jail #3, the first time in its 54-year history.”

Mirkarimi’s non-custody alternatives includes electronic monitoring of low-risk offenders, which allow offenders to work, go to school, participate in job skills programs, and attend drug counseling and drug addiction treatments.

“We’re seeing better results on reduced recidivism because we’re allowing people to move forward with their lives while being held accountable,” Mirkarimi said. “We’ve instituted one of the most robust and successful electronic monitoring programs in the state. Our success rate in 2014 was 94 percent, with no breaches of public safety.”

While Mirkarimi has much to celebrate in terms of his leadership and accomplishments, his political opponents are expected to spend heavily to attack Mirkarimi in the months leading up to the November election, using independent expenditure committees to fund the attacks.

Exploiting domestic violence for political gain

In the hotly contested 2014 race for Assembly District 17 between Supervisor David Campos and then Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, tech moguls Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway, both of whom are investors in Airbnb and beneficiaries of the tax exemptions provided to tech interests by the Lee administration, contributed $200,000 to an independent expenditure committee to attack Campos over his vote to reinstate Mirkarimi to office.

According to Campos, Hoffman and Conway exploited domestic violence – mailing grisly political mailers of domestic violence victims to voters – to defeat him because of his push to force Airbnb to pay their back taxes owed to the city. Moreover, it was Chiu who wrote the legislation on behalf of Airbnb to legalize home-sharing in San Francisco, Campos said, legislation that gifted Airbnb a pass on their unpaid tax obligations.

“This was legislation written by Airbnb through David Chiu,” said Campos, who voted against the ordinance. “They [Hoffman and Conway] used domestic violence as an excuse. The message is, you stand up to corporate interests, this is what you can expect.”

Lending credibility to Campos’s claim, Supervisor Jane Kim, who voted with Campos to reinstate Mirkarimi but voted for Chiu’s Airbnb legislation, was not targeted by Hoffman and Conway during her 2014 re-election bid to the District 6 seat.

Conway, a Republican, vowed in 2010 to promote moderate-friendly candidates at the expense of progressives. “We must take our city back,” Conway said. “I don’t like politicizing things, but this is about survival.”

Mirkarimi said he is fully expecting his political opponents to further exploit domestic violence to attack him during the campaign and readily admits he made himself an easy target, but he is counting on voters to recognize his policies are achieving positive results and socioeconomic gains.

Asked to comment on the moneyed influence over the mayor’s office, Mirkarimi said, “In context, what’s changing city hall and the city with it, is the mayor’s office and its mega wealthy friends’ desire to consolidate power at every facet of local government while vanquishing any form of dissent. This includes blurring the constitutional elected independence of the SF Sheriff’s Department.

“Sheriff Mike Hennessey knew this and so did I in the 2011 sheriff’s race,” Mirkarimi continued. “Similarly, with Mike’s support of my re-election, I’ll continue to defend the bright line that allows reformers and outsiders like us to move San Francisco and law enforcement forward, despite a culture that insists on holding it back. The opposition’s tag line of ‘trusted leadership’ is code for which side of the new city hall machine you are on.”

Additional photos

Women gathered for a photo to express their support for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

Women gathered for a photo to express their support for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez.

Luke Thomas

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, 7×7, 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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  • MPetrelis

    His office carries out evictions and yet none of the community “organizers” in the Mission are pressuring him, in an election year no less, to stop evicting tenants.

    • AnnGarrison

      He’d get thrown in jail for that. Not saying he shouldn’t do it, but he’d get thrown in jail for refusing to carry out court orders.

      • MPetrelis

        It would make for great news. The sheriff taking a principled stand in solidarity with renters and progs, refusing to carry out court orders to evict tenants. Might even be a game-changer! But, nah, it would take a lotta community “organizers” learning to play hardball politics with “friends” and using an election year to fight like hell for the living.

        • rationalgal

          Sheriff Richard Hongisto spent the night in his own jail for refusing to evict the tenants of the International Hotel in 1977, but the tenants were still evicted that same night. The evictions were carried out by the SFPD when the Sheriff refused to do so.

          • MPetrelis

            Wow, now that is something I didn’t know. If you have links to online sources about Hongisto’s act of civil disobedience that landed him in the clink, please share them with me: MPetrelis@aol.com. I’ll do my own Googling too. If Hongisto did it, why not the wife-bruiser too?

          • AnnGarrison

            I thought that Hongisto ultimately carried out the eviction after he got out of jail for refusing, but, if you can provide a citation, that would be appreciated.

    • Jerry Jarvis

      You are very right.

  • AnnGarrison

    i hope the opposition doesn’t hit bottom exploiting the Mirkarimi family’s past problems, but I can’t imagine they’ll have any more scruples than they did during the Chiu-Campos race. Probably fewer, if that’s humanly possible. Has Nicole Derse signed up to manage Vicky Hennessey’s campaign yet?

  • Gary_Sebben

    Look at all the people who are ok with spousal abuse.

    • Jerry Jarvis

      no shit!

  • Ralph E. Stone

    For the first time since the domestic violence case, voters will get to decide whether Mirkarimi should keep his job as sheriff. The alleged “gladiator-style” allegations during Mirkarimi’s watch will not help. I for one am voting for Vicki Hennessy.

    • Jerry Jarvis

      I wouldn’t vote for that hoe. She has a back ass agenda that only fuels the machine.

    • AnnGarrison

      Ralph, how ’bout letting this family live to sort out their own problems? They have all paid enormously and in 2012, San Francisco seemed too heartless to settle for anything but public suicide by the entire family.

      • Ralph E. Stone

        Ann, I would be pleased if Mirkarimi would quietly fade away to sort out his family problems in quiet, but he keeps himself in the spotlight. And his wife is planning a film on the domestic violence incident. Once he announced his re-election campaign, he became fair game again.

        • AnnGarrison

          ‘Case you hadn’t noticed, Ralph, the family has sorted their problems out. Attacks from San Francisco’s heartless citizenry just seem to make them stronger.

          • Flubert

            Ah yes, it is just a private family matter? Where did I hear that before?

            What is really sad is that if the DV perp had instead been the Mayor, the DA or the head of SFPD, the same progressives would be baying for his blood. But instead of course it is the guy in charge of locking up DV perps, but it’s OK because he is “one of us” and so should get a pass.

    • DavidinSF

      Ralph its people like you that helped create the soap opera of the “Mirkarimi affair” about a husband and wife having an augument, where as he grabed his wife’s arm and bruised it. This led to San Franciso becoming a laughing stock of the nation.

  • Jerry Jarvis

    Call it ironic that he would launch a re-elect him campaign in a house full of Dom victims that rely on his support. They supported slick Willie as well and Mustache Lee. You folks only elect the flavor of the day. No wonder it’s call “Only in SF”.

  • Haniya Ahmad

    I thought that Hongisto ultimately carried out the eviction after he got out of jail for refusing, islam quotes
    about life

    • AnnGarrison

      I believe he did.

  • David Elliott Lewis

    Good article Luke. Well written. More even photos can be seen at:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.883286525092662.1073741826.273695392718448&type=3

  • Ali Song

    ADIOS Sanctuary City pimp!