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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of San Diego
Measure E Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


419,748 votes yes (87.06%)

62,400 votes no (12.94%)

Shall the Charter be amended to include a new article adding: incapacity, felony conviction, and removal as grounds for vacancies in office; a procedure for calling a special election to remove an officer for cause; a revised procedure for filling vacancies; to require the City Attorney be a licensed attorney; and to define authority during vacancies and enforcement of office forfeiture?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters San Diego

The Proposal

What it would do

  • Combines all existing Charter sections that are common to all City Elected Officials (Mayor, City Attorney, and Councilmembers) into one new Charter article.

  • Adds minimum qualifications for City Attorney: 10 years as a licensed attorney in the State of California.

  • Adds new provisions to describe how to remove elected officials from office for cause:

- Removal from office occurs after a trial court judgment is entered.

- This removal from office can trigger the calling of a special municipal election to replace the officer.
- Three-fourths of the Council can vote to call a special election to remove and replace an elected officer.
  • Clarifies the interim line of succession when there is a vacancy in office until a replacement is appointed or elected. (The Council President succeeds the Mayor, a predesignated Assistant City Attorney succeeds the City Attorney, and the Chief of Staff of the departing City Councilmember succeeds a Council person.)
  • Clarifies the process for filling vacancies:

- Election would only occur if the term is more than one year.

- If less than one year until the next election, the Council would appoint an interim elected officer.


  • Adds new provisions to clarify the duties of the Interim Mayor and Interim City Attorney: 

- Interim Mayor does not have veto power.

- The Council, not the Interim Mayor, appoints members to boards and commissions.

- Interim City Attorney shall have the full authority of the Office.

Supporters say

  • After the Strong Mayor form of government was added to the City Charter in 2004 and the City Council had to terminate a mayor without proper Charter regulations, the Council felt that there needed to be more guidelines and procedures to terminate an elected official in the City Charter.
  • This process was carefully worked out by a committee of city staff and Council members, the City Attorney, and Council committees. It was presented and discussed several times over months of meetings.
  • The accused will need to be declared no longer able to serve by a court of law, so there should not be political play.

Opponents say

  •  The process will take too long after an accusation and before a court decision is made; meanwhile the accused would continue to hold the office. There is no provision for suspension because it is illegal by state law.
  • There is more than one subject in this ballot measure; it might be disqualified for that reason.
  • The Chief of Staff of a Councilmember may want to run for election but is not able to do so.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure


San Diego City Attorney

 This measure would amend the San Diego Charter to, among other things:

  • Require that the City Attorney have been licensed to practice law in California for ten years when seeking office;
  • Provide more detail regarding who performs duties. and what duties may be performed, when an elective office is vacant;
  • Define what is a vacancy for all elective officers, also adding felony conviction and physical or mental incapacity as new grounds for vacancy;
  • Add a section providing for the removal of elective officers for dereliction of duty or malfeasance in office by special election; and
  • Add a section providing a uniform procedure for filling vacancies in the elective offices of Mayor, City Attorney and City Council.


San Diego City Attorney

This measure was drafted after the San Diego County Grand Jury issued a report outlining the San Diego Charter’s lack of a procedure to remove elective officers, other than by voter-initiated recall. In response to the Grand Jury, the Council agreed to review the suggestions and consider potential Charter amendments. The Council created a Charter Review Committee, consisting of five Councilmembers, which held hearings to consider the issue.

The Council’s Charter Review Committee considered this measure and the Council placed it on the ballot. If approved, the Charter amendments would become effective after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

San Diego City Attorney

This measure would amend the San Diego Charter related to the qualifications, succession, forfeiture of office, vacancy, and removal of the Mayor, City Attorney, and City Council.

If approved by voters, this measure would amend the Charter to clarify how an elective officer forfeits office for certain contracting and fraud offenses; define who exercises authority during vacancies and the scope of such authority; and add a requirement that the City Attorney be licensed for ten years in the State of California.

The Charter currently addresses vacancies occurring after the death, resignation, or recall of Councilmembers and the Mayor. If approved, the Charter amendments would define vacancy for all elective officers, and add mental or physical incapacity, felony conviction, and removal as additional causes of vacancies.

The amendments also would add a procedure for removing elective officers for malfeasance or dereliction of duty. The City Clerk would notify the Council of an elective officer’s conviction of a misdemeanor involving official duties or moral turpitude, or a court’s ruling that an elective officer failed to perform official duties after a court order. After notification, three-fourths of the Council (currently seven of nine members) may call a special removal election; voters would be asked to remove the elective officer by majority vote. The Council would be required to adopt a complete procedure for removal elections in the Municipal Code. This could include limitations on elections when officers are already running for reelection.

The removal election would be a new method for San Diego voters to remove an elective officer. Voters would retain their constitutional right to recall an elective officer, which is also specified in Charter section 23. A successful recall petition would suspend other removal proceedings. San Diego would be the first California city with a Council-initiated special removal election; thus, no court has analyzed whether this procedure interferes with voters’ constitutional right to recall elective officers.

The Charter currently provides separate procedures for filling vacancies in each elective office. If approved, amendments would provide a uniform procedure for the Mayor, City Attorney and Council, based on existing procedure for vacancies of the Mayor or a Councilmember. If more than one year remains in an elected official’s term, voters choose a replacement by special election. When less than one year remains, the Council appoints a successor. City Attorney vacancies previously were filled by appointment only.

Financial effect

San Diego City Attorney

This measure would amend existing Charter sections and add new Charter sections to modify existing provisions or include new provisions related to qualifications, vacancies, removal, and succession of elective officers.

The estimated costs associated with these Charter amendments, if any, are negligible and will not have a material fiscal impact to the City.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR


Measure E describes in one convenient, easy-to-read location in the City’s Charter the processes by which the Mayor, City Attorney and Councilmembers qualify to run for office, how they are elected to office, and how they can be removed from office.

Currently, the Charter only allows for the removal of elected officials by resignation or recall. Most other cities have additional options for removing elected officials from office and clearer language about how to handle vacancies in office.

The proposed changes incorporate best practices used by other major cities and lessons learned during the Filner Mayoral administration and transition period afterward regarding the removal of elected officials from office.

This Charter amendment will:

  • Describe how to remove elected officials who are convicted of felonies and other serious crimes, those who become physically or mentally incapacitated, and/or those who are derelict in their official duties.
  • Clarify the process for filling vacancies in elected offices.
  • Create a clear process of interim authority that describes who will take over a vacant office until a replacement is appointed or elected, along with the duties of interim elected officials.
  • Add minimum qualifications that the City Attorney must be a licensed attorney in the State of California for ten years. (Currently the City Attorney does not even need to be a licensed attorney.)

Your “yes” vote on Measure E will create a better process for removing elected officials from office and will ensure stability and continuity of government operations when an elected office becomes vacant.

Measure E is unanimously supported by the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.


Council President, City of San Diego

President and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

President and CEO, San Diego County Taxpayers Association

President, League of Women Voters of San Diego

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST


No argument against Measure E was filed in the office of the City Clerk.

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR


— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST


— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure E

Organizations (3)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure E
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

More information

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