With Bob Filner’s resignation as San Diego’s mayor amid extensive accusations of sexual harassment, the second largest city in California and eighth largest in the nation will have a gay man as mayor on an interim basis — and it may get a gay or lesbian mayor for more than that.
The San Diego City Council this afternoon accepted Filner’s resignation by a unanimous vote, U-T San Diego reports. He will remain in office until August 30, and then council president Todd Gloria, who is gay, will become interim mayor starting in September.
“But his tenure as an interim mayor won't be anything like that of an elected mayor in the city,” The Atlantic Wire notes. “His powers will be limited by the city charter. He can't veto bills, but he will have limited supervising powers over the mayor's staff and city affairs. The City Council has to call a special election, to be held within 90 days, to replace the mayor.”
Gloria is expected to consider running in the special election, U-T San Diego reports. Also listed as likely candidates are two lesbians, California Assembly member Toni Atkins and former state senator Christine Kehoe, and another gay man, Carl DeMaio, a former City Council member who ran against Filner for mayor. The straight candidates mentioned are former Assembly member Nathan Fletcher, who has already filed papers declaring his intention to run, and City Council member Kevin Faulconer, deemed likely to enter the race. If no candidate wins a majority, there will be a runoff election between the two top vote-getters within 49 days.
The largest U.S. city with an out gay or lesbian mayor is Houston, the fourth most populous in the nation, where Annise Parker occupies the mayor’s office.
Filner’s resignation was the result of negotiations that came after as many as 18 women accused him of unwanted sexual advances, such as groping or forced kissing, and offensive comments, even suggesting that one employee work without wearing underwear. The latter employee was onetime communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, who “accused Filner of creating a hostile work environment that treated women as ‘sexual objects or stupid idiots,’” as U-T San Diego puts it. She retained high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred to sue the city and Filner for sexual harassment.
After his resignation was accepted this afternoon, Filner said, “To all the women I offended, I had no intention to be offensive,” according to U-T San Diego. He also accused his critics of having a “lynch-mob mentality.” A former congressman, he was San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years.