SAN DIEGO -- Toni Atkins, the Majority Leader of the California Assembly and a longtime San Diego resident, today called for Mayor Bob Filner to resign after he admitted in a DVD recording released Thursday afternoon that he had a problem and was undergoing city-mandated training regarding sexual harassment.
A leading Democrat in California, Atkins joins a slew of Democrats who have called for Mayor Filner to step down after serious allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against him by two prominent attorneys and former City Councilmember Donna Frye. Also, former Assemblymember Lori Saldaña went on the record on Thursday, saying she blew the whistle on Filner's issues with women about two years ago but that the local Democratic Party investigated the allegations and did nothing about them.
“It is with regret, but with strong resolve, that I call for Mayor Bob Filner to either come forward and declare his innocence or resign immediately," Atkins said in a statement. "Sexual harassment is incompatible with public service. Mayor Filner is the CEO of a government organization of almost 20,000 employees, at least half of whom are women. With his admission yesterday of mistreatment of the women on his staff, I believe he can no longer lead this city.
"We would not tolerate this from a CEO or senior government employee. We would not tolerate this if his actions were homophobic or racist. We cannot tolerate the mistreatment of women in the workplace," Atkins said.
Long a champion of the equal rights for women, minorities and LGBT Americans, Atkins minced no words.
"I have dedicated my career to social justice and speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves," she said.
"Last year I stood with Women for Filner because I believed in Mayor Filner's progressive vision for our city. Today I stand with the women who have been victims of sexual harassment, both in this instance and throughout our society," Atkins said.
"I hope Mayor Filner is sincere about and successful in his personal efforts to improve his attitudes and behavior, but again, I do not think he can continue to serve as mayor.”