By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is challenging a recall effort by touting progress the city has made during his term — an indication that he has no intention of resigning.
Filner, in a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, made no mention of the reason recall organizers want to boot him from office — allegations by more than a dozen women that he made unwanted advances such as inappropriate statements or groping.
Instead, Filner's says in his response addressed to the city clerk that he's launched economic, environmental and job-creating projects in his little more than eight months in office.
"As your Mayor, I am committed to moving San Diego forward!" he wrote.
Filner was required by law to respond to the recall effort by Monday in 300 words or less. The effort could move forward whether he responded or not, but now his words will be included on the petition that is expected to begin circulating next week.
Michael Pallamary, head of the effort to recall Filner, said the mayor's rebuttal falls short for residents.
"Mayor Bob Filner obviously believes his policy initiatives excuse his being a sexual predator," he said. "His reply is unacceptable. San Diegans want a mayor that doesn't grope and demean women, who doesn't abuse his office to satisfy a perverted quest for a sense of power, and who has the ability to lead our great city — an ability Filner can never, ever reclaim."
Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for the recall effort, found Filner's response absurd.
"He's trying to draw attention away from his behavior but San Diegans aren't stupid," she said.
Recall organizers will publish Filner's response in the U-T San Diego newspaper immediately, as required by law, she said.
About 70 people gathered outside City Hall on Monday for a rally dubbed "Not Welcome Back" in reference to Filner returning to work after completing two weeks of therapy.
Filner has not been seen since entering an intensive therapy session.
His lawyers said Filner completed the two-week program and would not be available for comment this week while he receives outpatient care.
Laing said the recall effort had received more than 150 small donations but she did not know the total amount of money raised.
The nine-member City Council and state and federal elected officials have urged the 70-year-old former congressman to step down.
Filner, who is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit, has apologized for what he says was inappropriate behavior and acknowledged disrespecting and intimidating women. But he has said he is not guilty of sexual harassment.