Voters sent one of San Francisco’s greatest sanctuary city supporters, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, packing with a poll closing tally that gave challenger Vicki Hennessy a 61 percent majority.
The backdrop of the vote was the killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle on a waterfront boardwalk, allegedly by an illegal immigrant, Francisco Sanchez. Sanchez reportedly told police after his arrest he was in the city because of its sanctuary tag – that he knew he wouldn’t be deported.
Mirkarimi and his office faced heavy criticism after Sanchez’s arrest, especially after it was learned the suspect had a felony record and had been deported on numerous previous occasions.
San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989, and local officials are banned from enforcing federal immigration laws or requiring those detained to answer questions about their immigration status.
A month ago, San Francisco’s supervisors approved a resolution to keep the city’s sanctuary label.
Mirkarimi also faced several other scandals during his tenure that Hennessy was able to capitalize on, including the death of an inmate, the mystery surrounding a missing patient at San Francisco’s General Hospital and allegations of deputies forcing inmates to fight.
Hennessy is a former sheriff’s official who was endorsed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. With all precincts reporting and most votes counted, Hennessy received 61 percent and Mirkarimi, 33 percent, the San Francisco Gate reported. A third candidate, John Robinson, a former lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department, came in with six percent.