Bob Filner’s last day as San Diego mayor; special election set
SAN DIEGO -- The resignation of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner becomes effective at 5 p.m. Friday, ending a tumultuous nine months that began with promises of a “progressive agenda” and better services for neighborhoods but ended in scandal and litigation over allegations of sexual harassment.
At 5:01, City Council President Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat, becomes acting mayor until Filner’s successor is elected.
A special election is set for Nov. 19. If no candidate gets 50%, a runoff will be held between the two top vote-getters, probably in January.
Even as he leaves office, the disgraced Filner’s legal troubles are not finished.
In a deal for his resignation, the City Council agreed to pay for his defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former director of communications and one of a succession of women who have accused the mayor of misconduct.
Under the deal, the city will also pay Filner’s share of any compensatory damages assessed by a court or in a settlement.
But the state attorney general and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department are conducting a criminal investigation into Filner’s conduct toward women, with possible charges of assault. The City Council is also set to investigate Filner’s use of a city credit card, as well as a trip to Paris in which two San Diego police officers went as a security detail.
In preparation for Filner’s resignation, Gloria promised Thursday that he will act with “transparency [and] collaboration” as acting mayor. He said Jackson would be restored to her previous position.
In a dizzying seven weeks since the first anonymous allegations were made, 19 women have gone public with accusations that the 70-year-old Filner groped them and made unwanted sexual comments, often after they had sought his help on a public issue.
The 19 included three city employees, two military veterans, a Navy admiral, a political consultant, two singers, a nurse, two college officials and three business executives.
Three of the accusers were represented by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who plans a news conference in San Diego on Friday morning “to celebrate Mayor Filner’s last day.” From the beginning, Allred had called for Filner’s resignation.
In addition to Jackson and a nurse who said Filner harassed her while she sought help for a Marine wounded in Iraq, Allred also represents a great-grandmother who said Filner groped her, drove her to tears, and once boasted that he could perform in bed “for eight hours.”
With Filner’s resignation, the special election campaign to choose a successor begins in earnest. Sept. 6 is the first day for candidates to officially sign up with the city clerk.
Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who served in Iraq with the Marines, has already declared his candidacy. He placed third in last year’s mayoral primary.
While in the Assembly, Fletcher was a Republican. He re-registered as an independent while running for mayor. Now he’s a Democrat. He was endorsed Thursday by the Municipal Employees Assn. and the city firefighters union.
Council President Gloria and Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, are both considering running. The two represented the council during the negotiations that led to Filner’s resignation.
San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, a Republican, and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a Democrat, are also possible candidates.
Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost to Filner in November’s runoff, will announce Tuesday whether he will put aside plans to run for Congress and instead run for mayor. DeMaio is a Republican and a leader in the pension reform movement.
In comments last week after the deal for his exit was announced, Filner was both defiant and apologetic. He called on the council to continue his initiatives to improve San Diego and the lives of “the working people of San Diego, those who struggle every day to make this city great.”
He ended with a quote from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy: “The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the dream shall never die.”
His supporters in the audience applauded. Council members, who had voted unanimously to approve the resignation deal, sat silently.
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