SAN DIEGO - San Diego County Democratic Party leaders voted Thursday evening to ask embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to step down.
Committee members met Thursday evening and voted 34-6 to ask the 70-year-old Filner to resign amid accusations of sexual harassment.
The decision came down in 30 minutes inside Democratic Party headquarters in Kearny Mesa. Central Committee chair Francine Busby said the allegations against the mayor were getting hard to ignore.
“Now that charges have been filed and the legal process is in motion, and that we’ve seen this is going to continue to evolve, we thought very strongly that it’s time to take a strong stance,” Busby said. “We think it’s in the best interest for the City of San Diego for the mayor to step down.”
10News cameras found Laura Fink, a former Filner staffer and alleged victim at Thursday’s meeting. She applauded the party’s decision, but says it’s not one she believes Filner will accept.
“I think Bob Filner is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met, and your guess is as good as mine, but I see him holding on to the grip of the mayor’s office,” Fink said.
A handful of Filner supporters, including one man who didn’t want to identify himself, were upset over the majority vote.
“We don’t do lynchings anymore, let the man serve, let the man serve!,” he exclaimed. “I don’t think the man should be pressured, there’s no pressure, he’s doing his job…the man is very progressive, he’s done more in six months than the other mayors have done since I’ve lived here for the past 38 years.”
Other Democrats, like Joy De La Ren told 10News it’s about time the party distance itself from the embattled mayor.
“When he touches someone and they say no, he thinks that’s just a figment of his imagination,” De La Ren said. “[The allegations are] not real to him, so how is he going to lead a whole city, and care about a whole city?”
County Republicans also responded with a written statement.
““While we commend San Diego Democrats for finally asking Mayor Filner to resign, had they not looked the other way for decades, for crass political reasons, this entire tragic episode could have been avoided,” wrote Francis Barraza, Executive Director of the Republican Party of San Diego County.
Meantime, Democratic leaders told 10News they will be moving forward to elect another progressive leader, and that it is now up to San Diegans to decide.
Central Committee chair Francine Busby issued this statement on Thursday's vote:
"The discussion among Central Committee members was intense, honest, and deeply personal. At this time, we have no consensus on whether Mayor Bob Filner should resign before his accusers go public and an independent investigation determines all the facts of this case.
However, I can share some broad areas of agreement among Democratic Party leaders. We unequivocally condemn sexual harassment and workplace intimidation. We abhor the actions he is alleged to have taken against women, even as we recognize that all the individuals involved have a legal right to a fair hearing.
The Mayor has betrayed the trust of the people of San Diego. These serious charges, if shown to be true, are grounds for immediate resignation. The Democratic Party will continue to monitor this situation and take further steps as warranted."
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