Some city officials voiced concerns the allegations were taking away from city business.
Filner disagreed with those claims and said so in a statement issued Monday morning.
“Some who have called for my resignation have justified it with the claim that the operations of the City will somehow be compromised by the current controversy,” said Filner.
In the statement, he announced the appointment of Walt Ekard as the new Interim Chief Operating Officer. Ekard appointed Scott Chadwick as his Assistant Chief Operating Officer and Judy Von Kalinowski as the City’s permanent Human Resources Director.
“Today’s announcements make clear the operations of City government will not be negatively impacted,” said Filner.
Ekard told Fox 5 he will be focusing on city operations, not the Filner turmoil.
“You’ve got 11,000 employees who really need some stability right now,” said Ekard. “I was retired and the opportunity arose and I decided on an interim basis that I’d be willing to step in and see if I can’t improve things.”
Ekard has more than 13 years of experience as the Chief Administrative Officer for San Diego County and comes with a great reputation. He said despite the controversy currently facing the city, he feels he can make improvements.
“People who know me know the kind of person I am and what my motivation is,” said Ekard. “I think the challenge of really trying, not just to make the city- keep it status quo during a tough time, but actually the challenge of making it better is just something I’m willing to do.”
As for the allegations against Filner, he has gone back and forth with his response. First, he issued a video apology for his “inappropriate behavior.” The following day he said he believed he would be cleared of wrongdoing. Monday, he reaffirmed his later statement.
“I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me,” said Filner.
San Diego District 7 Councilman Scott Sherman said the mayor’s statement is a message to the accusers.
“I think that’s a signal from the mayor to those ladies who are afraid to come forward,” said Sherman. “Don’t come forward or I’m going to drag you through all kinds of hearings and investigations and everything you’re afraid to have out in public.”
Sherman personally sent a letter to Filner Monday afternoon asking for his resignation.
“On behalf of the People of San Diego I call on you to end this sad chapter in our city’s history and stop embarrassing San Diego on a national level,” he wrote. “I ask you to resign and let us get back to work serving the residents of San Diego.”
San Diego District 5 Councilman Mark Kersey also joined the list of councilmembers calling for Filner’s resignation.
“Although everyone is entitled to legal due process, it would be in the best interest of the city and our employees if the mayor stepped aside to allow our workers to get their jobs done without being distracted by this circus at City Hall,” he said.
He also called for a full investigation of the claims against Filner.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that no city worker remains silent out of fear,” Kersey said.
San Diego District 2 Councilman Kevin Faulconer said Filner owes residents an explanation.
“He needs to do what’s best for the city and he needs to do so immediately,” said Faulconer. “Not through a video. Not through statements. He needs to come out and be honest and open and direct.”