SAN DIEGO (AP) — A prominent former supporter has urged San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign less than a year after taking office over allegations that he sexually harassed women.
A letter to Filner from former Councilwoman Donna Frye obtained by station KPBS said she recently received “credible evidence” that the mayor harassed more than one woman. She asked that the City Council schedule a special election to replace him.
Frye didn’t immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press, but was scheduled to appear at a news conference Thursday.
Frye’s urging came two days after Filner’s fiance, Bronwyn Ingram, announced in an email to her team of volunteers that she was breaking their engagement.
“I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken, both for what Team First Lady could have accomplished, and for me, personally; however, this is the only action I can take given the devolvement of our personal relationship,” Ingram wrote.
Frye, a fellow Democrat who once came within a whisker of being elected mayor in a write-in campaign, is highly regarded among Filner’s liberal base and served as the mayor’s director of open government for several months until resigning for a position at Californians Aware, a group that advocates for open government.
“Those who have spoken to me recently would not make the allegations lightly or without cause, and I believe them,” Frye wrote. “I cannot in good conscience remain silent on this, even if those who have spoken to me choose to do so out of fear of retribution or the possibility of a media circus where they could be twice victimized.”
Marco Gonzalez, an attorney who has worked closely with her on many issues, confirmed that she wrote the letter, which was posted on KPBS’ website (http://bit.ly/1b0Qnbg ). Gonzalez also called for Filner to resign and planned to appear at Thursday’s news conference.
KPBS reported that Frye made clear in an interview that she was not harassed by Filner, a 70-year-old divorcee.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby said in a statement that she and the party take sexual harassment very seriously, but would await more details and the mayor’s response before weighing in.
“Key questions remain to be answered both by Mayor Filner and those leveling these charges,” Busby said.
“At our recent meeting I was of the impression that you understood the gravity of the circumstances surrounding your treatment of staff, and in particular, the women who work for you in the Office of the Mayor,” he wrote.
Frye lost a write-in campaign for mayor in 2004 only because several thousand voters who wrote her name on the ballot failed to darken the adjoining ovals. If those ballots were counted, she would have unseated Republican Dick Murphy, who later resigned amid a scandal over city finances.
Filner was elected San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years in November after 10 terms in Congress.