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SD Filner

Eds.: ADDS new resignation calls. Lena Lewis of the mayor's office can be reached at (619) 201-1554. Stampp is correct.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A chorus of calls for Bob Filner to resign grew today as San Diego's mayor was to begin two weeks of behavioral therapy at an undisclosed location in response to accusations that he has sexually harassed women for years.

Former Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, who declined to run for the mayor's office last year after Filner got into the race, told U-T San Diego that it was time for him to ``step down.'' Kehoe, who also served on the City Council and in the state Assembly, did not elaborate.

Separately, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, told reporters before the first day of a new Assembly session that Filner was ``incapacitated'' and should resign, according to the newspaper.

So far, at least 10 women have accused the 70-year-old mayor of unwanted advances, while another, Escondido Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz described a ``weird'' encounter with the former 10-term congressman. One woman, former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, is suing Filner and the city.

Filner announced at a news conference on July 26 that he would undergo therapy to address his ``intimidating conduct'' and failure to respect women.

The mayor said he would receive daily briefings on city business while undergoing therapy and would return to work Aug. 19.

Adding to the call for the mayor's resignation was Kelly Burt, the chairman of the San Diego Chapter of the New Majority political action committee, a Republican group.

``This is not a partisan political issue, rather a moral one,'' Burt said in a statement sent to reporters. ``We can no longer sit idly by as the gears of city government grind to a halt because of the alleged conduct of its current mayor. The time has come to install new leadership with a new mayor who can restore the trust and integrity of city government of the eighth largest city in the nation.''

The voices clamoring for Filner to depart include his predecessor, Jerry Sanders; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; a majority of the San Diego City Council and former allies, including ex-Councilwoman Donna Frye.

On Friday, two men spearheading efforts to recall Filner announced that they would join forces to try to collect the nearly 102,000 petition signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot. Stampp Corbin, the publisher of LGBT Weekly, and Michael Pallmary, a land use consultant, said they wanted residents to have a say in whether Filner, who has rebuffed numerous calls to resign, should remain the mayor.

The mayor has until Aug. 11 to respond to the petition notice.

Organizers can begin circulating petitions on Aug. 18, and will have until Sept. 26 to collect more than 100,000 valid signatures.

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