HOW SHOULD FILNER CONTROVERSY BE HANDLED? REACTIONS MIXED AMONG SAN DIEGANS

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By Miriam Raftery

San Diegans are speaking out on the anonymous sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner--and their opinions are as diverse as the city's population. While some have called for the mayor's resignation or a recall election, others are urging him to stand his ground pending outcome of any investigaiton--and object to anonyous allegations being leveraged to try and force the mayor from office.

A rift has also occurred within the Democratic Party, with some prominent former supporters and multiple members of the City Council now calling for his resignation. But others say the Mayor is entitled to due process and that demands for his resignation are inappropriate absent proof of  illegal actions. In addition, the party is divided over who should replace Mayor Filner should he step down or be forced from office.

Some party powerbrokers favor moderate or conservative-leaning candidates such as Nathan Fletcher, a former Republican legislator, or Vice Mayor Todd Gloria. 

But others want to see Filner’s progressive policies enacted. They want the party to back a more progressive candidate such as former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a strong environmentalist who would also pull in Latino voters.

Mayor Filner has said that he will not resign.  He has admitted to disrespectful and intimidating actions toward women, but also maintains that he believes an independent investigation would find him innocent of wrongdoing.

Michael Pallamary, a Republican, has started a Recall Bob Filner Facebook page to determine whether there is support for a petition to recall the Mayor.

“Filner is completely incapable of running the city,” Pallamary said.  “He can’t do his job, so he gets to be fired.” 

A recall election is difficult to bring about, since it requires 15% of San Diego’s registered voters, or more than 103,000 people, to sign a petition supporting a recall. 

If a recall election succeeded, candidates for replacing the Mayor would appear on the same ballot – and whoever got the most votes would win.  If there were may candidates, this raises the prospect of a candidate with a small minority of votes winding up in charge of America’s sixth largest city.

If the Mayor decides to resign, by contrast,  the vacancy would be filled by a special election process that would include a primary election and then a runoff between the top two vote-getters, assuring that the winner would receive a majority of votes cast.   Vice Mayor Todd Gloria would fill the vacancy pending outcome of the special election.

Recall supporters plan to hold a rally Friday afternoon.

On Thursday, supporters of the Mayor staged their own event to call for due process for  Mayor Filner, asking San Diegans to avoid a rush to judgment until the legal process has time to work. 

  “We live in a society where you are innocent until proven guilty,” political activist David Valladodid resolved.