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San Diego City Council Amends Recall Process

Milan Kovacevic

San Diego City Council meeting February 25, 2014.

Residents who want to recall elected officials in San Diego will have more time to collect signatures under new procedures approved unanimously by the City Council Tuesday.

The amendments stemmed from problems with the recall process revealed last year when the administration of then-Mayor Bob Filner was mired in scandal.

Among the changes:

• The amount of time to collect signatures was doubled from 60 to 120 days.

• A supplemental period in which recall proponents could gather more signatures, if they didn't have enough when the petitions were filed, was removed.

• The time given to the city to schedule an election, if the recall qualifies, was increased to 180 days.

• A recall drive registered with the City Clerk's Office will require five proponents who live in, or vote in, San Diego.

• Recall efforts will not be allowed against an elected official whose term is scheduled to end within six months.

"It would be easy to forget about the issues that we faced a year ago now that that threat is behind us and just continue on with business,'' Councilman Mark Kersey said. "I think we discovered at that point that our rules regarding our recall process were not particularly well-conceived, or maybe were poorly amended over time.''

Last year, residents began circulating petitions to recall Filner after he was accused of sexual harassment by about 20 women. Filner stepped down Aug. 30, making the recall effort moot.

"The goal here is not to make it easy, by any means, to get someone out of office because that should be a difficult process but it should not be impossible,'' Kersey said. "That's what we saw last year — it was borderline impossible for a guy who thoroughly deserved it.''

City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said the new procedures align San Diego with the best practices used in large cities around the state.

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