Mayor of San Diego

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Mayor of the City of San Diego
Flag of San Diego, California.svg
Kevin Faulconer Portrait.jpg
Kevin Faulconer

since March 3, 2014
Term length Four years, renewable once
Inaugural holder Joshua H. Bean
Formation 1850
Salary $100,464 annually
Website Office of the Mayor

The Mayor of the City of San Diego is the official head and chief executive officer of the U.S. city of San Diego, California. The mayor has the duty to enforce and execute the laws enacted by the San Diego City Council, the legislative branch. The mayor serves a four-year term and is limited to two successive terms.

There have been 35 individuals who have served as mayor. Joshua Bean, elected in 1850, was the first mayor of the city. Edwin M. Capps, who served as mayor in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is the only person who served two non-consecutive terms. From 1852 to 1888, the city was run by a Board of Trustees and there was no elected mayor. However, the president of the board was called mayor as a courtesy.

In 2013, mayor Bob Filner resigned under pressure amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. In so doing, Filner joined several other recent San Diego mayors who resigned due to scandal, including Roger Hedgecock, Dick Murphy and acting Mayor Michael Zucchet. City council president Todd Gloria served as interim mayor until a special election could be held. Kevin Faulconer was elected to serve the remainder of Filner's term and assumed the office on March 3, 2014. Faulconer was re-elected for a second term on June 7, 2016.[1]


The position of mayor was created when San Diego was first incorporated on March 27, 1850. However, the city went bankrupt in 1852, only two years after incorporation. As a result of the bankruptcy, the State of California dissolved the government and replaced the mayor and city council with a board of trustees.[2] The mayoral position was later re-established with a new charter in 1887.[3] This charter was replaced with a permanent City Charter on May 6, 1889, using the strong mayor form of government.

In 1931, a new charter was adopted using a council–manager government with a citywide mayor as leader of the city council. In November 2004, voters approved Proposition F, returning San Diego to the strong mayor form of government on a five-year trial basis. This was made permanent in June 2010 with the passage of Proposition D.[4]

Duties and powers

The mayor serves as the official head of the City of San Diego for all ceremonial and civil purposes. The mayor has the authority to approve or veto council actions, subject to a two-thirds majority veto overrule. Under the strong mayor system, the mayor has sole authority to appoint and dismiss the city manager and to direct and control the city manager as permitted by the city charter. The mayor also has the authority to dismiss the chief of police or the chief of the fire department subject to a council overrule. The mayor may recommend measures and ordinance to the city council, but may not vote on these items.

On or before January 15, the mayor is obligated to communicate a State of the City address to the city council. The mayor must also propose a budget to the city council and for public review no later than April 15.[5]

The salary of the mayor was set at $100,464 in 2003.[6] In March 2012, the city's Salary Setting Commission proposed that the mayor be paid $235,000, but the city council unanimously rejected the recommendation, instead keeping the salary at the 2003 level.[7] In March 2014, the Salary Setting Commission recommended no pay increase for the mayor or city council. Instead, they recommended exploring future pay increases with additional condition that council members voting for pay increases not be allowed to benefit from the increase. This recommendation was approved by the city council in a 5–3 vote in favor of the changes.[6]

Election and succession

The mayor is elected in citywide election. Elections follow a two-round system. The first round of the election is called the primary election. The top-two candidates from the primary election advance to a runoff election, called the general election. Write-in candidates are only allowed to contest the primary election and are not allowed in the general election. The mayor is elected to a four-year term, with a limit of two consecutive terms.[8] The mayor is officially non-partisan by state law, although most mayoral candidates identify a party preference.

If the office of the mayor becomes vacant with one year or less remaining in the term, the city council appoints a person to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy occurs with more than one year remaining, the city council is obligated to call a special election. The candidate with the majority of the votes in the special election is declared mayor. If no candidate receives a majority, a special run-off must be held between the two candidates with the highest number of votes. While the mayor's office is vacant pending a special election, the president of the city council serves as the interim mayor, with limited powers, until a new mayor is elected.[9] If for any reason a Mayor serves a partial term of two years or more, it will count as one full term.[5]

The most recent general election was held in June 2016, and incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer was re-elected for a second term.[1] Faulconer was originally elected in a 2014 special election to fill the vacancy left as a result of the resignation of Mayor Bob Filner.[10][11]


David B. Kurtz, 2nd mayor of San Diego
William H. Carlson, 7th mayor of San Diego
Grant Conard, 13th mayor of San Diego
Charles Dail, 27th mayor of San Diego
Pete Wilson, 29th mayor of San Diego
Maureen O'Connor, 31st mayor of San Diego and first woman to hold the post

As of September 2017, 35 individuals have served as mayor. There have been 36 mayoralties because Edwin M. Capps served two non-consecutive terms; he is counted chronologically as both the ninth and sixteenth mayor. The longest term was that of Pete Wilson, who served for eleven years over three terms prior to the establishment of successive term limits. The shortest term, not counting interim or acting mayors, was that of George P. Tebbetts, who served for less than two months before the position of mayor was abolished due to the bankruptcy of the city. Percy J. Benbough is the only mayor to have died in office. Two women have been elected mayor: Maureen O'Connor and Susan Golding consecutively. John F. Forward, Sr. and John F. Forward, Jr. are the only father and son to have both served as mayor.

From 1852 until 1888, San Diego was governed by a board of trustees, so there was no official mayor.

Party affiliation is shown for each mayor, when known. However, election of mayor under the current charter is officially non-partisan.

This list includes people who served as acting mayor or interim mayor due to a vacancy in the office of the mayor, but who were not officially elected or appointed as mayor. The acting and interim mayors are not included in the count of mayors.

# Mayor Term start Term end   Party
1 Bean, Joshua H.Joshua H. Bean June 17, 1850 January 14, 1851 Independent
2 Kurtz, David B.David B. Kurtz January 14, 1851 January 10, 1852 Whig
3 Tebbetts, George P.George P. Tebbetts January 10, 1852 February 28, 1852 Independent
Board of Trustees[a] February 28, 1852 January 3, 1888 Various
4 Hunsaker, William J.William J. Hunsaker[b] January 3, 1888 November 13, 1888 Workingmen's
Hamilton, Martin D.Martin D. Hamilton[b] November 13, 1888 May 6, 1889 Republican[c]
5 Gunn, DouglasDouglas Gunn May 6, 1889 May 4, 1891 Republican[c]
6 Sherman, MatthewMatthew Sherman May 4, 1891 May 1, 1893 Republican
7 Carlson, William H.William H. Carlson May 1, 1893 May 3, 1897 Independent
8 Reed, Daniel C.Daniel C. Reed May 3, 1897 May 1, 1899 Republican
9 Capps, Edwin M.Edwin M. Capps May 1, 1899 May 6, 1901 Democratic
10 Frary, Frank P.Frank P. Frary May 6, 1901 May 1, 1905 Republican
11 Sehon, John L.John L. Sehon May 1, 1905 May 6, 1907 Democratic
12 Forward, Sr., John F.John F. Forward, Sr. May 6, 1907 May 3, 1909 Republican
13 Conard, GrantGrant Conard May 3, 1909 May 1, 1911 Republican
14 Wadham, James E.James E. Wadham May 1, 1911 May 5, 1913 Democratic
15 O'Neall, Charles F.Charles F. O'Neall May 5, 1913 May 3, 1915 Democratic
16 Capps, Edwin M.Edwin M. Capps May 3, 1915 May 7, 1917 Democratic
17 Wilde, Louis J.Louis J. Wilde May 7, 1917 May 2, 1921 Republican
18 Bacon, John L.John L. Bacon May 2, 1921 May 2, 1927 Republican
19 Clark, Harry C.Harry C. Clark May 2, 1927 May 4, 1931 Republican
20 Austin, Walter W.Walter W. Austin May 4, 1931 May 2, 1932 Republican
21 Forward, Jr., John F.John F. Forward, Jr.[d] May 2, 1932 August 2, 1934 Republican
22 Irones, Rutherford B.Rutherford B. Irones[d] August 2, 1934 February 1, 1935 Republican
Bennett, Albert W.Albert W. Bennett[d] February 1, 1935 May 6, 1935 Republican
23 Benbough, Percy J.Percy J. Benbough[e] May 6, 1935 November 4, 1942 Republican
Simpson, Fred W.Fred W. Simpson[e] November 4, 1942 November 30, 1942 Republican
24 Bard, Howard B.Howard B. Bard[e] November 30, 1942 May 3, 1943 Democratic
25 Knox, Harley E.Harley E. Knox May 3, 1943 May 7, 1951 Independent
26 Butler, John D.John D. Butler May 7, 1951 May 2, 1955 Republican
27 Dail, CharlesCharles Dail May 2, 1955 December 2, 1963 Democratic
28 Curran, Frank E.Frank E. Curran December 2, 1963 December 6, 1971 Democratic
29 Wilson, PetePete Wilson[f] December 6, 1971 January 3, 1983 Republican
Cleator, Sr., William E.William E. Cleator, Sr.[f] January 3, 1983 May 3, 1983 Republican
30 Hedgecock, Roger A.Roger A. Hedgecock[g] May 3, 1983 December 5, 1985 Republican
Struiksma, EdEd Struiksma[g] December 5, 1985 June 3, 1986 Republican
31 O'Connor, Maureen F.Maureen F. O'Connor June 3, 1986 December 7, 1992 Democratic
32 Golding, Susan G.Susan G. Golding December 7, 1992 December 4, 2000 Republican
33 Murphy, Dick M.Dick M. Murphy[h] December 4, 2000 July 15, 2005 Republican
Zucchet, Michael J.Michael J. Zucchet[h] July 15, 2005 July 18, 2005 Democratic
Atkins, Toni G.Toni G. Atkins[h] July 25, 2005 December 5, 2005 Democratic
34 Sanders, Jerry R.Jerry R. Sanders December 5, 2005 December 3, 2012 Republican
35 Filner, Bob E.Bob E. Filner[i] December 3, 2012 August 30, 2013 Democratic
Gloria, ToddTodd Gloria[i] August 30, 2013 March 3, 2014 Democratic
36 Faulconer, KevinKevin Faulconer March 3, 2014 Incumbent Republican

Presidents of the Board of Trustees

After San Diego's bankruptcy in 1852, the State of California took over city government and ran the city with an appointed Board of Trustees during 1852–1888. The President of the Board was called mayor by courtesy, although there was no official office of mayor.[2] When the office of president was vacated due to death or resignation, the board of trustees would choose a president pro tempore to preside over meetings until a permanent president could be elected by the board.[12][13]

# President Term start Term end   Party
1 Noell, Charles P.Charles P. Noell March 25, 1852 June 9, 1852 Democratic
2 Robinson, James W.James W. Robinson July 31, 1852 September 10, 1853 Democratic
3 Rose, LouisLouis Rose September 10, 1853 April 24, 1855 Democratic
4 Ames, Jesse JulianJesse Julian Ames April 24, 1855 March 20, 1856
5 Collins, ThomasThomas Collins March 20, 1856 July 14, 1857
6 Whaley, Henry H.Henry H. Whaley July 14, 1857 May 4, 1858 Whig
7 Whaley, ThomasThomas Whaley May 4, 1858 March 23, 1859 Whig
8 Bogart, Jacob C.Jacob C. Bogart March 23, 1859 March 18, 1860 Democratic
9 Tebbetts, Rufus B.Rufus B. Tebbetts March 18, 1860 June 30, 1862
10 Kurtz, David B.David B. Kurtz June 30, 1862 March 30, 1865 Democratic
11 Cassidy, AndrewAndrew Cassidy March 30, 1865 April 30, 1867 Democratic
12 Manasse, Joseph S.Joseph S. Manasse April 30, 1867 April 29, 1868
13 Estudillo, Jose G.Jose G. Estudillo April 29, 1868 March 5, 1869
14 McCoy, JamesJames McCoy March 5, 1869 May 13, 1872 Democratic
15 McCormick, William J.William J. McCormick May 13, 1872 March 31, 1873
16 Briant, David W.David W. Briant April 21, 1873 May 21, 1874
17 Veazie, E.A.E.A. Veazie May 21, 1874 December 18, 1874
18 Begole, William A.William A. Begole February 1, 1875 May 22, 1876
19 Boyd, J.M.J.M. Boyd May 22, 1876 March 7, 1877
20 McCarthy, D.O.D.O. McCarthy April 2, 1877 June 1, 1880
21 Jones, S.P.S.P. Jones June 1, 1880 October 5, 1883
22 Snyder, John H.John H. Snyder May 21, 1884 May 26, 1886
23 Stewart, William W.William W. Stewart May 26, 1886 June 7, 1886
23 Hamilton, Charles S.Charles S. Hamilton June 7, 1886 April 18, 1887 Democratic
24 Hamilton, Martin D.Martin D. Hamilton April 18, 1887 January 3, 1888 Republican

Other offices held

The following is a list of congressional, gubernatorial and other offices held by mayors, before or after their term(s).

* Denotes those offices which the mayor resigned to take
Mayor Mayoral term Other offices held References
Kurtz, David B.David B. Kurtz 1851–1852 California State Senator (1852, 1855)
California State Assemblyman (1861–1862, 1865–1866)
Carlson, William H.William H. Carlson 1893–1896 California State Assemblyman (1893–1894) [15]
Conard, GrantGrant Conard 1909–1911 California State Assemblyman (1913–1916) [15]
Wilson, PetePete Wilson 1971–1983 California State Assemblyman (1967–1971)
U.S. Senator from California* (1983–1991)
Governor of California (1991–1999)
Filner, BobBob Filner 2012–2013 U.S. Representative from California (1993–2012) [17]

Living former mayors

As of August 2013, seven former mayors are alive, the oldest being Pete Wilson (1971–1983; born 1933). The most recent mayor to die is John D. Butler (1951–1955; born 1915), on February 9, 2010.

Mayor Mayoral term Date of birth
Wilson, PetePete Wilson 1971–1983 (1933-08-23) August 23, 1933 (age 84)
Hedgecock, RogerRoger Hedgecock 1983–1985 (1946-05-02) May 2, 1946 (age 71)
O'Connor, MaureenMaureen O'Connor 1986–1992 (1946-07-14) July 14, 1946 (age 71)
Golding, SusanSusan Golding 1992–2000 (1945-08-18) August 18, 1945 (age 72)
Murphy, DickDick Murphy 2000–2005 (1942-12-16) December 16, 1942 (age 74)
Sanders, JerryJerry Sanders 2005–2012 (1950-07-14) July 14, 1950 (age 67)
Filner, BobBob Filner 2012–2013 (1942-09-04) September 4, 1942 (age 75)


  • a There was no official mayor during the time San Diego was run by the Board of Trustees.[2]
  • b William J. Hunsaker resigned from office, likely due to frustration from losing a power struggle against rivals on the city council.[18] Martin D. Hamilton served as acting mayor until the next election could be held.[19]
  • c Both acting mayor Martin D. Hamilton and fourth mayor Douglas Gunn ran as Republicans on the "Citizens' Non-Partisan" ticket.[20]
  • d John F. Forward, Jr. resigned from office after failing in his attempt to fire the city manager.[21] Rutherford B. Irones was appointed to finish the balance of his term. However, Irones himself would later resign after being convicted of drunk driving and a hit-and-run traffic accident.[22] Vice mayor Albert W. Bennet then served as acting mayor until a new election could be held.[23]
  • e Percy J. Benbough died in office of natural causes.[24] Vice mayor Fred W. Simpson then served briefly as acting mayor until Howard B. Bard was appointed to finish the balance of Benbough's term.[25]
  • f Pete Wilson resigned from office to join the United States Senate. William E. Cleator, Sr. served as acting mayor until a new election could be held.[26]
  • g Roger Hedgecock resigned from office due to convictions on felony conspiracy and perjury charges that were later overturned.[27] Ed Struiksma served as acting mayor until a new election could be held.[28]
  • h Dick Murphy resigned from office amid criticism for his role in the San Diego pension scandal and after failing to win a majority of the votes in the 2004 election.[29] Michael Zucchet served as acting mayor for three days before he too resigned due to a corruption conviction that was later overturned.[30] A week later, the City Council elected Toni Atkins to serve as acting mayor until a new election could be held.[31]
  • i Bob Filner resigned from office amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Todd Gloria served as interim mayor until a new mayor was elected.[32]


  1. ^ a b Garrick, David (June 7, 2016). "Faulconer re-elected, Bry looks headed to runoff". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Smythe, William (1907). "Part Five: Chapter II Political Affairs and Municipal Campaigns". History of San Diego, 1542-1908: The modern city. History Co. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Larson, Thomas (October 28, 2004). "Elections San Diego Style". San Diego Reader. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ "A History of San Diego Government". City of San Diego. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "ARTICLE XV Strong Mayor Form of Governance" (PDF). City of San Diego City Charter. City of San Diego. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Walker, Mark (March 10, 2014). "No pay hikes for mayor, council". U-T San Diego. Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ "City Council Rejects Salary Hikes For Mayor, Council". March 5, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ "How To Run For Office Details". City of San Diego. Retrieved December 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ Dotinga, Randy (August 22, 2013). "The Differences Between an Interim Mayor and a Strong Mayor". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Resigns From Office". Mediaite. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Kevin Faulconer Elected New Mayor in San Diego". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  12. ^ "City Clerk Archives". City Clerk Reports. City of San Diego. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Selected Chronological List of San Diego City Officials". San Diego History Center. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  14. ^ Smythe, William Ellsworth (1907). History of San Diego, 1542-1908: The modern city. San Diego, CA: History Co. p. 722. 
  15. ^ a b McGrew, Clarence Alan (1922). City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, Volume 1. American Historical Society. p. 428. 
  16. ^ "Pete Wilson". The Governors' Gallery. California State Library. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Filner, Bob, (1942– )". United States Congress. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ "William Jefferson Hunsaker (1855-1933)". Biographies. San Diego History Center. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  19. ^ "The Mayor's Resignation". The San Diego Union. November 14, 1888. p. 5. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ Crawford, Richard (August 25, 2011). "San Diego Pioneer Moved from Newspapers to Mayor's Chair" (PDF). San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Forward to End Job August 1 Action Follows His Failure to Oust F. M. Lockwood as City Manager Three Councilmen and City Attorney in Line for Post as Municipal Head". Los Angeles Times. April 18, 1934. pp. A8. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Hit-Run Mayor Drops Out.". The New York Times. February 5, 1935. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Bennett Acting Mayor of S.D. as Irones Fate Debated". Evening Tribune. February 2, 1935. p. 1. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  24. ^ "PERCY J. BENBOUGH; Mayor of San Diego Since 1935, Ex-Head of Fire, Police Groups". The New York Times. November 5, 1942. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  25. ^ "P.J. Benbough Succumbs to Lengthy Illness". The San Diego Union. November 5, 2014. p. 1. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  26. ^ "William E. Cleator, Was San Diego City Councilman". Associated Press. February 11, 1993. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  27. ^ Abrahamson, Alan (February 2, 1992). "Bailiff's Bias in Hedgecock Trial Disclosed". Los Angeles Times. 
  28. ^ "Election Today for S.D. Mayor". Los Angeles Times. February 25, 1986. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  29. ^ Dillon, Jeff (April 25, 2005). "San Diego mayor announces departure less than 5 months into second term". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on June 18, 2014. 
  30. ^ Coffey, Daniel (October 14, 2010). "Justice undone: Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza". San Diego Daily Transcript. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Toni Atkins to serve as San Diego's deputy mayor until new mayor elected". San Diego Union-Tribune. North County Times Wire Service. July 26, 2005. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  32. ^ Gustafson, Craig (August 30, 2013). "Q&A with Todd Gloria, interim mayor". U-T San Diego. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Election results
  • City Charter 1889–1931
  • City Charter 1931–2004
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