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What Happens If The San Diego Mayoral Election Leaves A Council Vacancy?

Photo by Angela Carone / KPBS

Above: City Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez.

Two of the major candidates facing off in the San Diego mayoral race are city councilmen: David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer. If one ultimately wins that leaves an empty seat on the City Council.

Two of the major candidates facing off in the San Diego special mayoral race are city councilmen. What happens if one of them wins?

Special Feature Special Election

But the City Charter says in these circumstances, San Diegans won't have to face yet another election.

If either Alvarez or Faulconer is elected mayor, he will have less than a year left on his City Council term. According to the City Charter, when a council seat has a vacancy with less than a year left on that seat's term, there isn't a special election to fill the empty seat. Instead, the council would appoint someone to fill in for the remainder of the term.

Here's what the city's municipal code says:

"The Charter provides that if a vacancy occurs in the office of a City Council District and there is one year or less remaining in the term, the City Council shall appoint an individual to fill the vacant seat. If the vacancy occurs with more than one year remaining in the term, the Charter requires the City Council to call a special election to fill such vacancy."

That's good news for tired voters and for the city's budget, which will be spared the cost of another election. The primary and general elections to fill the City Council District 4 seat last year cost about $775,000, according to the County Registrar of Voters. That District 4 seat vacated by Tony Young had to be filled by a special election because Young had more than a year left on his term.

But there's a catch:

The person appointed to fill the City Council seat had better not get comfortable — the appointee is not allowed to run for reelection. Again, from the city's municipal code:

Any individual appointed by the City Council to fill a vacant City Council District seat shall not be eligible to run for that office for the next succeeding term.

The regularly scheduled vote for the seats occupied by Alvarez and Faulconer is next year. If Alvarez doesn't win the mayor's office, he could run for another term. But Faulconer will be termed out next year, so if he isn't elected mayor, his days on the council are numbered.

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