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Petition targets San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

More than a dozen women say Bob Filner harassed them.

More than a dozen women say Bob Filner harassed them.

SAN DIEGO — The effort to recall San Diego’s embattled mayor kicked off in the nation’s eighth-largest city Sunday, one day before Bob Filner was set to return to work at City Hall after undergoing behavior therapy.

The petition drive to boot Filner from office amid sexual harassment allegations began Sunday, and organizers said some volunteers began gathering signatures right away.

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‘‘This is a tremendous grass-roots undertaking — truly the people taking back their government from an abuser who has betrayed San Diegans, demeaned women, and who can no longer lead our city,’’ said Michael Pallamary, who filed the petition to recall the Democrat. ‘‘They’re ready to tell Filner, ‘It’s over, Bob. The people are going to show you the door.’ ’’

The 70-year-old former US representative has resisted numerous calls to resign from the nine-member City Council, and state and federal elected officials, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has said that Filner should step down and spare San Diego the pain and expense of a recall election.

More than a dozen women have publicly accused Filner of making inappropriate statements or advances. The latest came Thursday when a volunteer city worker who assists senior citizens said Filner repeatedly rubbed her hands, asked her on dates, and made sexually suggestive comments.

The recall effort must collect 101,597 signatures of registered San Diego voters by Sept. 26. If the petition has fewer than that, the recall campaign will have 30 more days to circulate a supplemental petition to gather the additional valid signatures. If enough signatures are validated by the city clerk, the petition will be presented to the City Council, which must schedule an election within 60 to 90 days from then.

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