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Councilman Says City Code On Recall Elections Should Be Amended


SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Councilman Mark Kersey proposed Friday that a San Diego municipal code section on recall elections be amended to bring it into line with state law.

All of the accusations, statements and apologies from the key players in the developing story about allegations of sexual harassment in Mayor Bob Filner's office and calls from former mayoral supporters for his resignation.

The City Council should discuss the issue at the next available meeting, since a recall effort against Mayor Bob Filner appears imminent, Kersey wrote in a memo to council President Todd Gloria, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and City Clerk Elizabeth Maland.

Land-use consultant Michael Pallamary told reporters he will formally begin a recall campaign against the mayor, who faces sexual harassment allegations from at least seven women, if Filner fails to resign by Monday at 5 p.m.

Also, Stampp Corbin, the owner and publisher of LGBT Weekly, took out an advertisement in U-T San Diego to signal his intent to start a recall campaign.

Filner said Friday that, instead of resigning, he plans to take two weeks off to seek behavioral counseling.

Kersey said San Diego's code sections governing recall elections haven't been updated since 1989, and include language "nearly identical'' to a state law that was struck down in federal court in 2003.

The old state law said, "No vote cast in the recall election shall be counted for any candidate unless the voter also voted for or against the recall of the officer sought to be recalled,'' according to Kersey.

The San Diego code section says, "No vote cast for a candidate shall be counted unless the voter also voted on the recall question,'' Kersey said.

The councilman said striking down the state law means California voters can choose a candidate whether or not they vote on the recall issue itself.

Election attorneys believe the San Diego rule that disallows such flexibility for voters is unconstitutional, he said.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith opined that the San Diego code section would not survive a legal challenge and should be repealed.

Pallamary, Corbin or any other party would need to collect about 102,000 valid signatures to qualify a recall election for a citywide ballot.

According to the city clerk's office, no citywide recall effort of a San Diego municipal government official has ever qualified for the ballot.

However, citywide petition campaigns to place initiatives on the ballot have been successful in the past.