John Hemmerling
Photo courtesy of John Hemmerling

This post originally appeared in the May 28 Politics Report. Become a member now to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Late Thursday, the Union-Tribune reported that John Hemmerling, a deputy city attorney who is the lone Republican in the race to be the next San Diego County Sheriff, was leaving his job as the head of the city attorney’s criminal and community justice divisions.

Hemmerling retired Thursday, and his retirement was effective immediately. That abrupt departure came one day after the Union-Tribune rescinded its endorsement of Hemmerling “after learning of anti-transgender remarks” he made at a candidate forum a month ago.

In front of a conservative group in Ramona, he warned that the County Board of Supervisors had passed an ordinance that “redefined what a woman is.” Those supervisors, he said, would be the ones directing the new sheriff “to enforce that out here, allow those men to go to the women’s bathrooms, right? That’s what I’m saying.”

In text messages to Voice of San Diego, Hemmerling said despite the abrupt departure, his retirement had been in the works for a while.

“I’ve been contemplating a date for months,” he said. “I’ve been balancing many things with the campaign and now I can be clear to solely focus on the campaign.”

Election Day is in 10 days, and ballots were sent to voters three weeks ago.

Hemmerling would not say why the retirement occurred so abruptly.

“Timing is personal, but I had been discussing it for months,” he said,

Asked specifically, he said his comments in Ramona were not solely responsible for the timing of his departure.

“Many factors… specifically that alone, no,” he said.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

Join the Conversation


  1. My wife & I thank the Union-Tribune, plus Voice of San Diego, for helping us know that we needed to vote for John Hemmerling for San Diego County Sheriff!

  2. How are these “anti-transgender remarks”? Isn’t the issue of a biological male using a restroom for biological females something that should be discussed in polite, respectful, and vigorous debate?

  3. If the U-T has rescinded their endorsement that’s all the more reason to vote for him.

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