SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to advance a resolution calling for a special election to fill Supervisor Nathan Fletcher‘s seat.
When the board meets again in three weeks, they will vote on the newly created resolution to hold a special election on Aug. 15.
Fletcher plans to step down from his District 4 seat on May 15. He is currently out on a medical leave being treated for what he says is alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress.
Since that announcement, there have been many developments involving the supervisor and his leadership position. Days after he announced he was checking himself into treatment, a former Metropolitan Transit System employee, Grecia Figueroa, filed a lawsuit accusing Fletcher of sexual harassment and assault in his role as then-chairman of MTS.
Fletcher has denied the allegations but said he had “consensual interactions” with someone outside his marriage.
Chair Nora Vargas addressed reporters following an hours-long and at times contentious meeting, during which nearly 100 people addressed the board during public comment.
“I don’t think four people should be making a decision about who that person should be on the board, especially when we have over 3 1/2 years to go,” Vargas said. “So for me, it’s extremely important that we invest back in the special election.”
At one point during public comment, Vargas was forced to clear the chamber to quiet down the unruly crowd. That was followed by a robust debate with Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer over how to ensure the democratic process is fair, and to maximize voter turnout.
“I am very concerned about an election in the middle of summer in an off-cycle year when we could end up with 10 to 15% of voters at the polls,” Lawson-Remer said. “I really am concerned. You look historically at special elections and the turnout is much lower. So just doing what we normally do just doesn’t cut it.”
“Holding a special election ensures that San Diego County residents can choose their representatives fairly and transparently,” Supervisor Jim Desmond said in a statement following the vote. “It’s important for the 700,000 people that live in District 4 to decide directly who will represent them for the next three years. The people that live in this district deserve to have their voices heard.”
If no candidate receives 50% plus one of the vote, another election would be held in November.
Elizabeth Alvarez and Misha DiBono contributed to this report.