San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey as the city’s next mayor? That was one of the politicians mentioned as a credible choice to lead the city in the event of a mayoral vacancy by the candidates running to be the next District 8 supervisor at a debate last night (Wednesday, September 22).
Hennessey (pictured at left) was just one of half a dozen people named as someone who could become the next person to claim Room 200 at City Hall should the current occupant, Mayor Gavin Newsom, win his bid to be California’s lieutenant governor in November.
Should Newsom defeat the current holder of the statewide office, Abel Maldonado, he would resign as mayor sometime in January. It would then be up to the Board of Supervisors to select an interim mayor to serve out the remainder of Newsom’s term, which expires in January of 2012.
While there is some question as to if the current board would select the new mayor or if the decision would be postponed until after the winners of this fall’s even-numbered supervisor races are sworn into office, it has become a topic of debate in the various contests for the board.
During the debate last night with the District 8 candidates at the LGBT Community Center, moderator Melissa Griffin asked all four who they would want to see become the interim mayor.
Deputy City Attorney Scott Wiener named Hennessey as a “terrific choice” to serve out Newsom’s term. He told the Bay Area Reporter afterward that he had not spoken to the sheriff about it but had heard rumors he might be ready to step down from the law enforcement post he has held for three decades.
He also suggested that his current boss, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), or incumbent District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty are all qualified to have the job on a permanent basis.
Herrera and Dufty, who is also gay and termed off the board this year, have already launched mayoral campaigns. Leno has admitted he is interested in the job but has yet to begin raising money.
Local attorney Rafael Mandelman said he could “see the advantages to having a one-year mayor” and called Hennessey “a nice option” for the interim choice.
Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan suggested Ed Harrington, a gay man who is general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission, or City Administrator Ed Lee as good picks to serve on a temporary basis. She said she would not support giving the job to a person who intends to run in the general election next year.
“I do not think it is appropriate to give it to a candidate seeking it” on a full-time basis, said Prozan, as it would give them a “huge advantage” in the race.
Business executive Bill Hemenger said he thought District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is “ideally suited for it, at least a year.”