Bob Filner recall, San Diego, California (2013)
Efforts to recall Bob Filner from his position as Mayor of San Diego, California were launched in July 2013. On August 23, Filner announced he would resign effective August 30. With the official resignation, the recall effort ended.
Filner was a Democratic member of the U.S. House representing California's 51st Congressional District from 1992-2012. Rather than seek re-election to the U.S. House in 2012, Filner instead ran successfully for Mayor of San Diego. He resigned from Congress on December 3, 2012 to assume his role as mayor.
On July 22, 2013 a former communications director formally filed a lawsuit against Filner with charges of sexual harassment. In the following week six more women came forward with similar allegations, and another ten by mid-August. Calls quickly came for Filner to resign, but he instead indicated that he would undergo intensive behavioral therapy treatment. Filner acknowledged that he had personal problems, but stated that he believes he would be cleared of any legal charges. Filner's lawyer indicated, for instance, that Filner had never been given legally mandated sexual harassment training and that not all offensive behavior is necessarily legally sexual harassment under the law.
Reasons for recall
Two separate recall initiatives against Filner were launched in late July. One recall effort is lead by Michael Pallamary, a land use consultant and registered Republican. Pallamary said he felt Filner was "destroying [the] city, day by day, hour by hour." It is noted that Pallamary has animosity towards Filner that goes back to 1991 when Filner was on the city council and Pallamary lead San Diego's only successful recall in the city's history. The 1991 recall was against City Councilwoman Linda Bernhardt, who was part of a group of city council members that Filner was leading. Pallamary had started a page in support of recalling Filner on Facebook in June, before the scandal broke, in anticipation that Filner would make some sort of mistake.
The other recall effort is lead by Stampp Corbin, an LGBT activist. Some, including Pallamary, have accused Corbin of launching his recall effort purely to hinder other recall efforts. Pallamary threatened legal complaints against Corbin, stating he believed Corbin was violating elections laws. Corbin denied such allocations, saying he would collect signatures, just not pay for their collection. It was noted that Corbin was appointed as chairman of the city's Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission by Filner.
The statement from recall supporters as written by Michael Pallamary on the recall petition reads:
|“||We, the undersigned registered voters of the City of San Diego, California demand the recall of Bob Filner from the office of Mayor. The following are the reasons for demanding such recall:
NOTICE OF INTENT TO CIRCULATE PETITION Notice is hereby given of the intention of the person whose name appears hereon to circulate a petition within the City of San Diego for the purpose of recalling Mayor Bob Filner. A statement of the reasons for the proposed action as contemplated in said petition is as follows: Mayor Filner has engaged in a corrupt pay for play process involving a $100,000 payoff. Mayor Filner has used police officers overseas for his personal security team at taxpayer expense. Mayor Filner has repeatedly ignored city council votes and moved in a direction contrary to their wishes. Mayor Filner has violated his oath of office. Mayor Filner is divisive and disruptive. Mayor Filner has used a taxpayer funded police officer to eject a deputy city attorney from a legally necessary meeting. Mayor Filner has used his executive powers to punish the city attorney by slashing the attorney’s budget. Mayor Filner has created chaos and a hostile environment since taking office. Mayor Filner withheld tourism marketing funds to the point of negatively impacting the city’s ability to attract tourists. Mayor Filner has been derelict in his duty to maintain the dignity of his elected office. Mayor Filner’s personal activities have created considerable liability for the city of San Diego. Mayor Filner is incapable of carrying out the duties of the mayor of the country’s eighth largest city. Mayor Filner has brought shame to the office of the mayor. Mayor Filner does not have the respect of the majority of the members of the city council. Mayor Filner refuses to resign from public office and instead defies his constituent’s wishes. Mayor Filner has admitted he is possessed by a “monster” leading to his “personal frailties.” Mayor Filner’s refusal to sign city contracts has cost the city millions of dollars. Mayor Filner’s staff has been resigning and abandoning him. Mayor Filner is ineffective as mayor. Mayor Filner has admitted to disrespecting women and intimidating them. Mayor Filner has abused his power and authority for personal gain. THE CITIZENS OF SAN DIEGO DESERVE BETTER.
The response by Filner that will be published with the recall petition as allowed for by California state law is as follows:
|“||Now is not the time to go backwards — back to the time when middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to Downtown special interests. We need to continue to move forward!
We have moved toward the vision of producing thousands of middle-class jobs in our port; creating a solar-based City to enhance our environment and create jobs; building an efficient international border to bring billions of dollars into our economy; keeping our military and hitech sectors strong and vibrant.
We have produced a creative vision for our Balboa Park Centennial which will make it more accessible and beautiful for our citizens and bring millions of tourists to San Diego. Balboa Park’s Plaza De Panama is at last free of automobiles and will transform the pedestrian experience for the next century.
We have brought world class urban thinkers to transform our neighborhoods into livable, walkable and bikeable adventures. Neighborhood leaders feel a new sense of empowerment and excitement!
We have put millions of new dollars to bring the City’s arts and culture to new levels; our river park systems are experiencing new growth; our homeless population and military veterans have new hope for jobs and self-respect; we are spending more dollars on our road infrastructure than ever before.
We negotiated a five-year labor agreement which brings new stability, hope, and respect for our City employees. Our working people see new hope for livable wages. The expansion of the Convention Center will bring thousands of jobs and millions of tourists to San Diego.
Our position as one of the biggest bi-national metropolitan areas in the world promises new trade, new cultural interchanges and new possibilities. We are developing a proposal for the first bi-national Summer Olympics in world history for 2024!
As your Mayor, I am committed to moving San Diego forward!
Recall organizers noted that Filner's response was incorrectly filed, but stated they would publish it with the recall petition regardless.
Early in the recall process, several apparent legal issues were identified. First was ambiguous legal language and precedent regarding the complications of dueling recall efforts. Second was language in San Diego's recall law requiring voters to vote in the recall election to be eligible to vote in the replacement election that contradicts a 2003 federal court ruling.
On August 1, Deputy City Attorney Sharon Spivak resolved part of the legal questions when he stated that two recall petitions could be circulated, but only one could be accepted by the city clerk's office. The issue became moot shortly after when the dueling recall efforts announced their cooperation.
Mediation and resignation
On August 19, after avoiding the media for several weeks, Filner emerged to participate in closed-door mediation that lasted three days. At the end of the mediation, local reports indicated that Filner agreed to resign. The mediation was handled by Former U.S. District Judge J. Lawrence Irving.
On August 23, Filner officially announced in the City Council chamber his resignation effective August 30, 2013. City Council President Todd Gloria would then serve as acting mayor. Under the mediation process, Filner had agree to resign, and the city would cover some legal fees and potential punitive damages. Filner continued to deny allegation of sexual harassment during his resignation speech, but apologize to the women who came forth.
Upon Filner's resignation, the recall effort announced it would wind down and asked for petitions to be returned to the recall headquarters for counting and recycling. The effort stated at the time of the resignation that they had already gathered more than 30,000 signatures.
August 16 poll
|Should be recalled?||73%||20%||7%|
Additionally, after being told the recall effort would require "more than 100,000 valid petition signatures be collected over a 39-day period," 11% of those surveyed said the recall would be "very difficult," 31% said it would be "somewhat" difficult, 30% said it would be "not very" difficult, 24% said it would "not [be difficult] at all," and 4% were not sure.
Moreover, 72% of those surveyed said they would sign a recall petition, 22% said they would volunteer to help the recall campaign, 20% said they would volunteer to circulate a recall petition, and 15% said they would donate to the recall campaign.
August 8-9 poll
|Should be recalled?||65%||25%||10%|
Additionally, when the survey participants were asked what they think will happen, 54% though he will be recalled, 25% thought he will stay in office, 18% thought he will resign, and 2% were not sure.
August 2-4 poll
|Should be recalled?||68%||21%||12%|
July 23 poll
|Should be recalled?||75%||14%||11%|
Path to the ballot
- See also: Laws governing recall in California
- On July 26 Stampp Corbin published his notice of intent to recall.
- On July 28 Michael Pallamary published his notice of intent to recall.
- On July 29 Pallamary served Filner with a copy of the notice of intent to recall and filed an affidavit with the San Diego City Clerk.
- Filner was given 14 days to submit a response which must be published by recall organizers, and did so shortly before the deadline.
- On August 2 Pallamary and Corbin announced they would combine efforts.
- On August 19 recall supporters officially began circulating petitions.
- Recall organizers had a 39-day period to circulate petitions. They would have needed to collect 101,597 signatures (15 percent of the city's current registered voters) by September 26 to have forced a recall.
- On August 23 Bob Filner announced his resignation effective August 30.
- If the recall effort had submitted signatures, the San Diego City Clerk would have verify the signatures using random sample methodology.
- If signatures had then been insufficient, a 30-day signature collecting extension could have been granted upon request.
- If signatures had then been sufficient, an election would have been be held within a 60 to 90 day period.
- City of San Diego's Mayor Office Website
- Recall Bob Filner Now! (Website of the recall effort)
- San Diego Municipal Code, Article 7, Division 27: Recall
- San Diego City Attorney: Analysis of Municipal Code Law Regarding Multiple Recall Efforts
- Bob Filner Recall Petition
- Timeline of the Bob Filner Scandal
- The New York Times, "Denying Accusations of Sexual Harassment, the Mayor of San Diego Resigns," August 23, 2013
- The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Timeline of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner scandal," August 23, 2013
- San Diego 6, "UPDATE: FILNER RECALL CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEERS AFTER MAYOR'S RESIGNATION," August 24, 2013
- UT San Diego, "DeMaio concedes to Filner in mayor's race," November 7, 2012
- "2012 HOUSE SUMMARY," cookpolitical.com
- National Journal, "Filner Resigns, Sworn In As San Diego Mayor," December 3, 2012
- The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Recall launched as Filner seeks legal fees," July 29, 2013
- Los Angeles Times, "Two groups seek to recall Filner, but efforts have legal questions," July 29, 2013
- USA Today, "San Diego mayor faces recall, sex harassment suit," July 25, 2013
- The Atlantic Wire, "San Diego Mayor Filner Could Stay in Office for Awhile," August 6, 2013
- 10news.com, "Poll: Mayor Bob Filner's support down to 1 in 7 San Diegans; 81 percent say he should resign," August 18, 2013
- KPBS, "Dueling Rallies To Support, Recall Mayor Bob Filner Scheduled," July 18, 2013
- Fox 11, "San Diego City Council to sue mayor," July 30, 2013
- CBS8.com, "Recall efforts combine to oust Mayor Filner," August 3, 2013
- Fox 5 San Diego, "Filner recall organizers unite efforts," August 2, 2013>
- recallbobfilner.com, "Recall Petition," accessed: August 21, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- 10news.com, "San Diego Mayor Bob Filner responds to recall campaign," August 13, 2013
- cbs8.com, "Filner response to be published to recall petition," August 14, 2013
- Pomerado News, "City Attorney: Only one recall effort can appear on San Diego ballot," August 1, 2013
- nbcsandiego.com, "San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to Resign," August 22, 2013
- UT San Diego, "Filner mediator called 'incredibly savvy'," August 20, 2013
- SurveyUSA, "Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #20684," accessed: August 21, 2013
- SurveyUSA, "Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #20675," accessed: August 16, 2013
- 10news.com, "Poll finds just 23 percent of San Diegans think Mayor Bob Filner will serve out his term," August 11, 2013
- 10news.com, "As Filner enters rehab, calls for resignation, recall grows," August 5, 2013
- SurveyUSA, "Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #20624," accessed: August 16, 2013
- 10news.com, "New 10News/U-T San Diego poll shows 69 percent of San Diegans want Filner to resign," July 25, 2013
- The Los Angeles Times, "Campaign to recall San Diego Mayor Filner begins; supporters to rally," August 18, 2013
- IVN San Diego, "Filner Recall and Special Election Could Cost San Diego $3.7 Million," August 7, 2013
- The Washington Post, "Recall Bob Filner? It’s harder than you might think," August 5, 2013