San Diego Council Members spoke out Friday following Mayor Bob Filner’s announcement of his resignation during a special meeting in the Council Chambers of the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego.
Filner will officially vacate the mayoral office on Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. now that the San Diego City Council has officially accepted these terms for his resignation.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith – who has fought publicly with Filner during his rocky term as mayor – was the first to speak following Filner’s resignation speech.
“We’re all in this together. This is a time of healing,” said Goldsmith.
Council President Todd Gloria, who will step in as interim mayor for the time being, said the resignation deal with Filner will bring some closure to San Diegans.
“This settlement represents an end to our civic nightmare and allows the city to begin to heal,” said Gloria. “This settlement was approved by a unanimous vote with the councilmembers who were present, continuing our united front that we’ve had throughout this crisis.”
Councilmember Kevin Faulconer had this to say: “This has been one of the most difficult and trying times in our city’s history. Now, it is time for us as San Diegans to come together, to heal our city and to move our city forward. We San Diegans know that we are better than what has happened.”
“This agreement is a good agreement for San Diego, for our neighbors and for taxpayers,” Faulconer continued. “Through this effort today, San Diegans are now able to regain control of our city.”
Faulconer also read a statement on behalf of councilmember Scott Sherman, who was not present at the meeting Friday. The statement read, in part:
“I truly believe that ratifying this agreement is what’s right for the City of San Diego. This settlement, as it was described to me, will effectively end this sad chapter in San Diego’s history, and in a cost-effective manner, allow the city to move forward and begin the process of restoring confidence in city government.”
Meanwhile, councilmember Lorie Zapf also defended the decision to have Filner step down from office.
“I’ve seen the letters and heard the calls saying that we should not be spending one cent on Filner’s legal defense, and philosophically, I agree with you,” said Zapf. “Mr. Filner is an abusive man. There are many accounts of him misusing his power in the worst of ways. I am angrier than words can express.”
“I can also sympathize. While Bob Filner has not approached me sexually, his angry and demeaning behavior towards women has been directed at me personally on a number of occasions. Trust me, I want him to face the consequences of his behavior,” Zapf continued.
She went on to say that, while she supports the recall movement against Filner, his resignation is a more timely and effective alternative.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make during my time here, but leadership is not easy. It is often very hard. I owe it to the people of San Diego to ensure that Bob Filner is gone and his behavior as Mayor stops. This is the only sure way I have to do just that. Today I voted to end the dysfunction immediately by securing Mayor Filner’s resignation… it is time to move forward.”
Councilmember Mark Kersey said the decision to oust Filner from office was necessary.
“The time has come for this civic nightmare to be over. Thousands of San Diegans came together, across whatever lines divided us, to tell Bob Filner that we are better than this and it is time for him to go. Now, our City workers will be rid of this man who broke their trust and abused his power. It is time to move forward and focus on the important work of improving San Diego,” said Kersey.
Finally, councilmember Marti Emerald spoke, calling the decision right, but difficult.
“I’ve known Bob Filner for 30 years, and I know what a champion Filner has been over those 30 years. And, he does have faults, as we all do. I’m not here to make excuses for him, but as we go away tonight, I hope there is no celebration. Instead, I hope people will look within their hearts and determine what is right and make better choices,” said Emerald. “Let’s truly let the healing begin.”
Calling it the toughest decision of his life, Mayor Filner said he agreed to resign on Friday even though he knows he would be vindicated if given due process in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee.
“It certainly was never my intention to be a mayor who went out like this,” said Filner.
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