Here's how Fletcher's seat on the Board of Supervisors could be filled
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Thursday that he would resign, effective May 15, amid accusations of sexual harassment and assault.
Grecia Figueroa, a former spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transit System, sued Fletcher this week alleging that he stalked her on social media in 2021 and sexually assaulted her twice last year.
Fletcher denies harassing or assaulting Figueroa, but admitted to having a consensual extramarital affair with her. Fletcher is married to Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation and a former assemblymember.
Fletcher said in a statement earlier this week that he is seeking treatment for PTSD and alcohol abuse.
Fletcher will be vacating the District 4 seat, which covers most of central San Diego as well as La Mesa and Lemon Grove. His departure will almost certainly spark intense political jockeying as Democrats seek to maintain their 3-2 majority on the Board of Supervisors.
On Friday, Board Chair Nora Vargas announced that supervisors would decide how to proceed at their May 2 meeting. In a statement she wrote, "To fill the vacancy due to Supervisor Fletcher's announced resignation, our Board of Supervisors will follow the legal process provided by our charter and board policy which gives us options."
Here are the scenarios that could play out next.
How will Fletcher's vacancy be filled?
Rules around how to fill vacancies on the Board of Supervisors are set forth in board policy A-39. It states that the board can appoint a replacement, call a special election or do a combination of the two.
The remaining supervisors are evenly split between two Democrats, Nora Vargas and Terra Lawson-Remer, and two Republicans, Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond. Though their seats are officially nonpartisan, party affiliation plays a significant role in how the supervisors vote on key issues, including public health policies, law enforcement oversight and access to social welfare programs.
If the four supervisors cannot agree on a replacement for Fletcher's seat, they must call a special election.
When would a special election take place?
This question is also up to the four remaining supervisors. First, the County Registrar of Voters must present them with their options and corresponding costs.
One option would be to wait until the next regularly scheduled election, which is the March 5, 2024 presidential primary. This is likely the most cost-effective option, but would leave Fletcher's roughly 675,000 constituents without representation for close to a year.
Another option would be to hold an off-cycle special election. This would fill the seat sooner and cost more money. It would also likely see lower voter turnout.
Democrats enjoy a heavy voter registration advantage in District 4. But Republicans tend to perform better in low-turnout special elections.
Who is likely to run in District 4?
At least one candidate has already entered the race to succeed Fletcher: Democrat and veterans advocate Janessa Goldbeck. She announced her candidacy in February after Fletcher said he would be running for state Senate, a campaign he abandoned earlier this week when he announced his medical leave of absence.
Potential Republican candidates include Amy Reichert, an activist who campaigned against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates and who lost to Fletcher last November.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is rumored to be eyeing another run for office, but his home in Point Loma was drawn out of District 4 in the 2021 redistricting process. That means he would have to move to qualify for the seat.
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