'Freedom From Filner' Rally, Petitions Signal Recall Kick-Off - NBC4 Washington
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'Freedom From Filner' Rally, Petitions Signal Recall Kick-Off



    The effort to recall embattled Mayor Bob Filner officially kicked into high gear on Sunday with several recall-related events held around San Diego.

    At around 2:15 p.m., supporters of the campaign to recall Filner gathered at the Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego for the “Freedom From Filner” recall rally.

    Short speeches were delivered by organizers of the rally before the group took to the streets to march.

    “Are you ready to take back our city?” one organizer asked the enthusiastic crowd of hundreds. “Bob Filner, the citizens of San Diego have a message for you: It’s time to resign.”

    “You have brought disgrace upon our city,” she added.

    Famed attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of the victims accusing Filner of sexual harassment, also spoke at the rally.

    READ: Key Players in Bob Filner Scandal

    “Mayor Bob Filner, you do not share our dream of gender equality,” said Allred.

    “City Hall is not your personal sexual playground,” she continued. "It is a seat of power and responsibility, and you have abused that power. The people of San Diego will have their voices heard. There is no excuse for abuse -- and no excuse for you to stay in power.”

    Allred was flanked by alleged victims Peggy Shannon – a 67-year-old great-grandmother who claims Filner kissed her and made sexually explicit remarks to her in the workplace – and Katherine Ragazzino, a U.S. Marine who claimed the mayor used her situation with the VA as a bargaining chip to get a date with a nurse.

    Neither Shannon nor Ragazzino spoke out at the rally.

    Before the march began, a rally organizer had specific instructions for San Diegans who would like to support the recall.

    “For the recall effort, we ask, find someone with a petition, and sign it,” she said.

    From there, the crowd -- many equipped with creative signs -- began their march in downtown San Diego.

    One sign read, "To err is to human, to resign is devine."

    Earlier in the day – and to get the ball rolling quickly on a process dictated by deadlines -- recall volunteers passed out petitions and gathered signatures at the finish line of America’s Finest City Half-Marathon in Balboa Park Sunday morning.

    Wearing bright yellow shirts with the words “RECALL FILNER” scrolled across the front, recall volunteers walked around the race collecting signatures from San Diegans who want Filner out of City Hall.

    San Diego resident Kathryn Lopez said she signed the recall petition because, in her opinion, Filner is simply not fit to run the city.

    “[I signed] because our city needs a mayor with no controversy, and someone who can lead the city. Right now, he’s not capable of doing that,” Lopez told NBC 7.

    SPECIAL SECTION: Mayor Under Fire

    Kathleen Dang said put her signature on the petition because she believes harassment in the workplace is inexcusable.

    “I signed the petition because a person in power should not be disrespectful to anyone. Everyone is equal and that kind of harassment in the workplace is not acceptable anywhere else, so it shouldn’t be acceptable in the mayor’s office,” said Dang. “I believe Filner should step down. He needs to take responsibility for his actions.”

    After running the marathon, resident Brent Edwards took time to sign the petition.

    “I just think it’s a matter of principle. Someone shouldn’t just be allowed to essentially intimidate and treat women, or any person really, the way the mayor has. I just think it's despicable that someone in his position of power can use and abuse that power to intimidate women. It’s inappropriate,” Edwards told NBC 7.

    “Anyone in any other position would’ve been let go, and I don’t think it should be any different for someone in a political position,” he continued.

    “[Filner] knows he’s not doing right, treating ladies like that. He needs to have more respect for women,” said San Diegan Miguel Garcia.

    Other residents who signed the recall petition early Sunday morning said they simply no longer wanted Filner to be the face of their beloved San Diego.

    “I don’t want to be represented by the man [Filner]. I don’t think he deserves to be in public office. There are a lot of them, and he’s one of them,” said Debbie Simas. “He has problems; he should just stay home.”

    “I’m thrilled to sign this today because I’m embarrassed to have Bob Filner as my mayor for the City of San Diego. I’m a native San Diegan – this is a huge embarrassment for me,” said local Francesca Thiem.

    After that, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., recall organizers hosted a “Recall Signature –Gathering” kick-off event in the Pacific Ballroom at the Town & Country in Mission Valley.

    There, attendees were able to learn how to become a volunteer for the recall effort, as well as pick up petitions to sign and mail back to organizers.

    An event notice created on the official Recall Bob Filner Facebook page prior to that gathering read:

    “We need your help to prove that it's NOT impossible for the public to rise up and remove from office a man that has proved he is not worthy or capable of leading our city. Let's show Filner the door.”

    Recall organizers need to collect and turn in more than 101,000 valid signatures by Sept. 26 to qualify for the ballot.