Dennis Herrera

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Herrera participating in Bike To Work Day (2009)

Dennis Herrera is City Attorney of San Francisco, best known for his court action in favor of gay marriage, including against Proposition 8. He was re-elected as City Attorney in 2009 with 96 percent of the vote.[1] In the 2011 election he ran for Mayor of San Francisco, finishing third.


Early Life and Education

Born November 6, 1962 in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York. Herrera grew up in the nearby Long Island working class community of Glen Cove . His father was a psychiatrist who immigrated from Colombia after serving as part of the UN Peacekeeping Troops during the Suez War in 1956. His mother was raised by her Italian immigrant parents and still practices as a nurse today in Glen Cove, NY.

Herrera obtained his bachelor’s degree at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and went on to earn his JD from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, DC. Throughout his education, Herrera worked many jobs to support himself – from his newspaper route as a young boy to restocking shelves at the local grocery store to serving as a short order cook in a local diner. After graduating law school in 1987, Dennis was offered an associate position at a maritime law firm in San Francisco and moved to the city.[2]

Political career

After his move to San Francisco in 1987 Herrera became an active member of the community, joining his local Democratic club and helping to get Democratic candidates elected in the city. In 1990, Dennis was appointed to the Waterfront Plan Advisory Board. He also served on the Finance Committee for the California Democratic Party.

In 1993, Herrera was appointed Chief of Staff for the US Maritime Administration in Washington, DC. After helping run an office with 1,100 employees, he went back into private practice in San Francisco as a partner in the maritime law firm of Kelly, Gill, Sherburne & Herrera.[3]

He was appointed to the SF Transportation Commission by-then Mayor Willie Brown and eventually became a Police Commissioner. He was voted the President of the Commission after just one year.[2]

San Francisco City Attorney

In December 2001, Herrera was elected in a run-off to the post of San Francisco City Attorney, making him the first ever Latino City Attorney of San Francisco. He is currently serving his third term.

As San Francisco’s City Attorney, Dennis Herrera worked on a number of city issues. His office was the only municipality in the country to seek to strike down a federal abortion ban proposed by the Bush Administration.

His office was also responsible for blowing the whistle on the widespread national scam to defraud the government e-rate programs in needy school districts. His case brought back millions of dollars to benefit San Francisco’s public school kids.

He secured civil gang injunctions protecting neighborhoods that were affected by gang violence, drug pushing, graffiti and intimidation.

Herrera has also been an advocate for affordable and fair healthcare. He sued insurance companies in San Francisco to end “gender rating” practices that allowed the California insurers to charge women as much as 39% more for health care coverage than men and successfully defended San Francisco’s universal health care “Healthy San Francisco” program all the way to the Supreme court – maintaining healthcare coverage for thousands of San Franciscans.[4]

Prop 8

In his role as City Attorney he gained significant notoriety and was quoted in several national publications for his filing of the first government litigation in American history to challenge the constitutionality of marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. In partnership with Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Santa Clara County Counsel Anne C. Ravel filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8.

In his petition Herrera said: “The issue before the court today is of far greater consequence than marriage equality alone ... Equal protection of the laws is not merely the cornerstone of the California Constitution, it is what separates constitutional democracy from mob rule tyranny. If allowed to stand, Prop 8 so devastates the principle of equal protection that it endangers the fundamental rights of any potential electoral minority -- even for protected classes based on race, religion, national origin and gender. The proponents of Prop 8 waged a ruthless campaign of falsehood and fear, funded by millions of dollars from out-of-state interest groups. Make no mistake that their success in California has dramatically raised the stakes. What began as a struggle for marriage equality is today a fight for equality itself. I am confident that our high court will again demonstrate its principled independence in recognizing this danger, and in reasserting our constitution's promise of equality under the law.” [5]

Run for Mayor

In August 2010, Herrera announced that he would seek the office of Mayor in San Francisco. He finished in third place with 22% of the vote.

Personal life

Dennis met his wife, Anne, in 1999 and they were married just 10 months later. They live in the Dogpatch neighborhood with their 11 year old son Declan. Herrera coaches his son Declan’s baseball and soccer teams.[6]



External links