POLITICS

Sanctuary city controversy looms large in San Francisco sheriff race

In this Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi answers questions during an interview in San Francisco. Only two incumbent San Francisco sheriffs have lost re-election in the last 60 years and Ross Mirkarimi is facing a tough battle on Nov. 3 to avoid being the third. Thrust into the middle of the national immigration debate this summer, Mirkarimi is being outspent by an opponent garnering key endorsements and who seeks to capitalize on the incumbents problems during his first four years in office. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

In this Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi answers questions during an interview in San Francisco. Only two incumbent San Francisco sheriffs have lost re-election in the last 60 years and Ross Mirkarimi is facing a tough battle on Nov. 3 to avoid being the third. Thrust into the middle of the national immigration debate this summer, Mirkarimi is being outspent by an opponent garnering key endorsements and who seeks to capitalize on the incumbents problems during his first four years in office. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The immigration debate is front and center in the San Francisco sheriff's race following a killing in which a Mexican man in the country illegally has been charged.

Incumbent Ross Mirkarimi faces a challenge Tuesday from a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

Vicki Hennessy says she wants to restore credibility to the department after several embarrassments since Mirkarimi took office in 2012.

Mirkarimi says he has owned up to his missteps, including a misdemeanor false imprisonment conviction for grabbing his wife's arm during a spat in 2011.

The pivotal issue in the race is the city's policy of shielding people in the country illegally from the reach of federal immigration officials.

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The department released the Mexican national despite a federal immigration request to detain him. He is accused of killing a San Francisco woman.

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