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What You Need To Know About The San Diego Mayoral Special Election


The resignation of former Mayor Bob Filner has left a leadership void that requires a special election to quickly fill the city's top spot. Its shortened timeframe puts pressure on candidates to raise money and get out the vote, but the special election also has a timeline voters may not be familiar with, so we've dissected it here.

How Does Someone Become A Candidate For Mayor?

If you're 18 or older, a citizen of the U.S. and a registered voter in the City of San Diego, you can run for mayor. So far, more than three dozen people announced they intend to seize that opportunity in the upcoming special election.

What You Need To Know About The San Diego Mayor Special Election
How is this special mayoral race different from a regular election process?

To be considered a potential candidate, these individuals were first required to file an intention to run. After that, they must appear in person at the Office of the City Clerk to pick up nomination papers and collect at least 200 signatures of registered voters.

Once collected, they'll submit the signatures with a $500 filing fee and a statement of economic interests. They can also provide a job title and a statement about why you should vote for them. (If you'd like to check over the information candidates submit, the city clerk must make ballot materials available for public examination before they are printed.)

If the potential candidate gathers more than the required number of signatures, he or she can offset some of the filing fee costs. To pay nothing, they'll need an extra 2,000 signatures.

This nomination period usually lasts four weeks, but because of the truncated timeframe of this special election, potential contenders only have two weeks to gather enough signatures and submit their filing fee.


When all signatures are returned to the city clerk's office — which must be done by Friday, Sept. 20 by 5 p.m. — the County Registrar of Voters checks their validity, which will take about five days. If everything checks out, the potential candidate turns into an official candidate.

How Is This Election Different?

The whole election process is moving a lot faster than usual. That's because the special election is occurring within a much shorter time frame. In a regular election, such as the 2016 mayoral election, candidates have approximately nine months from the date they pull their nomination papers until the actual election. In the special election, that timeframe is shortened to roughly only two and a half months.

Still, election officials have to meet certain state mandates required of any election. For example, to meet early voting requirements, ballots have to be printed and ready to go Monday, Oct. 21, 29 days before the election. And new this year, ballots have to be mailed to overseas military personnel on Friday, Oct. 4, which is 46 days before the election.

This brief timeframe puts extra pressure on candidates to convince voters to choose them as the next mayor, but it also gives an advantage to candidates with name recognition.

Another side effect: Compared to a regular election, voter turnout will likely be down in the special election.

In order to be declared Bob Filner's successor on Nov. 19, one candidate must get the majority of votes that day. If one candidate does not win more than 50 percent of the votes, then a run-off election is declared between the two top candidates. In a regular election season, a run-off occurs no more than 49 days later. However, because there are certain state requirements, such as mailing ballots to overseas military personnel 46 days prior to an election, that timeframe will have to be adjusted for this special election.

In the event a special run-off election is necessary, the city clerk will provide more information at that time.

If Filner Had Been Recalled

In the event that a special election was called because a recall campaign succeeded, then the candidate who gets the most number of votes wins outright.

There would be no run-off. Considering the large number of people who have said they are entering the race, the next mayor could've won with just a slight margin of the votes cast, as opposed to a majority, or more than 50 percent of the votes.