Filner resigns, San Diego looks at what comes next
by Dave Schwab
Published - 08/23/13 - 05:22 PM | 25553 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At turns apologetic and accusatory, Democratic Mayor Bob Filner ended one of the most turbulent chapters in San Diego’s history by agreeing Aug. 23 to resign in exchange for a partial settlement of a sexual harassment claim brought against him by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson.

Filner’s resignation will take effect Friday, Aug. 30.

A total of 18 women have come forward in the past six weeks accusing Filner of making inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances toward them.

Following three days of brokered negotiations between parties involved, which included City Council President Todd Gloria and District 2 Councilman Kevin Faulconer, the City Council met Friday afternoon in closed session voting 7-0, with councilmembers Scott Sherman and Myrtle Cole absent, to accept Filner’s resignation and the settlement agreement’s terms.

Filner apologized profusely to the women he offended, the city and his former fiancée, Bronwyn Ingram. He admitted to being solely responsible for his actions.

“I will try to make amends for the part I have played in putting this city through a very bad time,” he said.

Then Filner reversed field, cautioning the council and the city, saying they were facing a “lynch mob mentality.”

“In a lynch mob, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts and facts become evidence of sexual harassment, which have led to many calling for my resignation and recall,” Filner said. “I have never sexually harassed anyone. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to continue this (legal) battle. I know, if given due process, I would be vindicated.”

Filner admitted, however, to providing the “ammunition,” through his poor conduct around women, which led to his downfall. But he blamed others for being the instrument of his demise.

“The well-organized special interests that have run this city for 50 years pointed the gun, and the media and their political agents pulled the trigger,” Filner said.

The soon-to-be ex-mayor concluded by saying he hoped his successor would continue to promote diversity, giving all San Diegans “a seat at the table.”

“Stability is the mayor resigning and a special election to replace him, and that’s doable,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith following Filner’s remarks.

Responding to Filner’s resignation, Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner, who will take over as president of the council, issued a statement.

“I’d like to thank Council President Gloria and all my council colleagues for placing their trust in me to lead the council in the coming months. I’m looking forward to continuing to work cooperatively and productively with each of my colleagues.”

Lightner said her focus will be on “delivering the services our residents and businesses want and need in order to keep our great city moving forward while promoting a culture of stability, reliability and transparency at City Hall.”

Lightner urged “everyone who loves San Diego to join together to create a bright new chapter in our city’s future, and I know we can count on Council President Todd Gloria, the City Council, our city staff and our citizens to do just that.”

The conversation now quickly turns to what is to come next in the process.

Council president Gloria will become interim mayor, while retaining his rights and responsibilities as a member of the council. His duties as interim mayor will be limited. He will not, for example, be authorized to veto council actions.

A special election to elect the next mayor will be held within 90 days. If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters within 49 days of that election.

With Filner on his way out, challengers for his seat were already on their way in.

Two candidates, former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and Tobiah Pettus, had already filed their intentions to run for mayor as of Aug. 23, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

“The first vultures are alighting on the corpse,” quipped LaDona Harvey, KOGO radio morning co-host on Aug. 23.

Ex-Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost to Filner in a closely contested mayoral election last November, is expected to announce next week whether he will enter the race. He had been preparing for a congressional run against Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, next year.

San Diego’s new mayor — for now

A brief look at interim mayor Todd Gloria

District 3 City Councilman Todd Gloria is a third-generation San Diegan from a family with a military background. He graduated from University of San Diego with majors in history and political science.

U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis had been Gloria’s political mentor ever since they first met in 1993. In 2002, Gloria became Davis’ district director, a position he held until being elected to the city council in 2008.

While working for Davis, Gloria also served as a San Diego Housing Commissioner from 2005 until 2008. He is also a former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and was a resident panelist on San Diego’s Prostitution Impact Panel.

Gloria ran for the District 3 seat vacated by the termed-out Toni Atkins in the 2008 election. In the 2012 election, he ran for re-election unopposed and was re-elected in the June primary. In December 2012, at its first meeting after new members took office, Gloria was unanimously elected to serve as council president, replacing retiring President Tony Young.

Gloria has been chair of the city’s Budget and Finance Committee since 2011. He represents San Diego on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board and SANDAG, where he chairs the transportation committee.

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