Maureen O'Connor, a former two-term councilwoman who narrowly lost the 1983 mayoral election to Roger Hedgecock, officially entered the race for mayor Friday.
Two longtime leaders of the council's Republican, pro-development voting bloc--Acting Mayor Ed Struiksma and Councilman Bill Cleator--are her best-known opponents in the Feb. 25 nonpartisan primary.
Struiksma said in announcing his candidacy that O'Connor, a Democrat, was the front-runner in the race. If none of the candidates receives more than 50% of the primary vote, the top two finishers will compete in a June 3 runoff.
Struiksma and Cleator have promised not to spend more than $250 of their own money on their respective primary campaigns and asked O'Connor to make a similar pledge. She made no such commitment but said she would adhere to a campaign spending ceiling if the local Bar association and Common Cause come up with one.
In the 1983 race, O'Connor, who is married to Robert O. Peterson, the multimillionaire co-founder of the Jack-in-the-Box restaurant chain, spent $683,000 of her own money, records show.
O'Connor said she will refuse donations from developers and asked her key opponents to follow suit. They declined.
"I would rather be beholden to myself than to developers," she said.
O'Connor has served on the Port Commission, where she was critical of the escalating cost of the Convention Center, and on the Metropolitan Transit Development Board, where she was instrumental in the development of the San Diego Trolley. She is the top Democratic contender to replace Hedgecock, a Republican who was forced to resign last month before his sentencing on perjury and conspiracy convictions.