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Short Time Frame To Elect New Mayor Presents Challenges For Candidates

— The clock is ticking on San Diego's special election to choose a new mayor. Candidates have just over two months to convince voters to support them.

Aired 9/9/13 on KPBS News.

The clock's ticking on San Diego's special election to chose a new mayor. Candidates have only two months to convince voters to support them.

Mayor Bob Filner tells the City Council he will resign.

Special Feature Special Election

Sand began passing through the election hourglass when the city council voted to hold the Nov.19 special election.

Candidates have about two weeks to file nomination papers, another month to file an election statement, and about another month after that to finish campaigning before the primary election is over.

Former mayor Jerry Sanders says that tight window creates challenges.

"It's a tremendously short period of time and it's hard for candidates to raise a lot of money during that time." said Sanders. "It's also a very quick turnaround before the absentee ballots go out. I think in the last election about 50 percent of the votes were cast by absentee ballots. So it's going to mean the candidates are really hustling right now."

The short election period gives an advantage to candidates with name recognition.

"The absentee ballots just reinforces the notion that who you are when you start the campaign is what voters are largely going to base things on. You're not going to have a lot of time to educate the public. So the bigger issue in this campaign is going to be voter turnout — which side can mobilize their resources to get their voters to the polls," said Carl Luna, Mesa College political science professor.

With such a short election cycle, candidates will have to ditch subtle image building efforts.

"Candidates often time during elections try to introduce themselves to the public, get a narrative going," said Luna. "Candidates this time won't have that option. The person you vote for on election day is the person you see on the first day of the campaign."

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the winner takes office Dec. 17. If no candidate wins outright, a runoff will be held. The city charter says that'll happen within 49 days.

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