SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Nearly 70 percent of San Diego residents believe the embattled mayor of California’s second-largest city should resign following allegations that he sexually harassed a former aide and at least two other women, according to a poll by local media.
The results marked a 10-percentage-point increase in the number of respondents who thought Bob Filner should step down since city residents were asked the same question two weeks ago, just after the scandal broke.
Both polls were conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of the San Diego Union-Tribune and local television station KGTV.
The findings were released late on Wednesday, after a third woman, school psychologist Morgan Rose, publicly accused the 70-year-old Democrat and former U.S. congressman of making lewd comments and unwanted advances toward her.
The first woman to come forward, former press secretary Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the mayor on Monday, and a number of prominent local Democrats have called on Filner to resign.
As accusations first surfaced against him on July 11, even before the alleged victims themselves went public, Filner acknowledged having engaged in inappropriate behavior toward female staff members and said he was seeking professional help. But he has so far insisted that he would not resign.
Filner was elected mayor last year after a 20-year career as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for a district that encompassed the southern portion of San Diego and much of the rest of California’s border area.
In a survey of 700 San Diego residents on Tuesday, 69 percent said Filner should go, compared with 59 percent on July 12, according to the Union-Tribune website. Another 24 percent said Filner should remain in office and 11 percent said they were not sure.
Separately, 87 percent of respondents on Tuesday said they were familiar with the sexual harassment allegations against Filner and 66 percent said they thought those accusations were true. The SurveyUSA poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 to 4.3 percentage points.
Filner made a rare public appearance on Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for a San Diego trolley construction project. He declined to address questions about the scandal.
“I see you’ve found a way to attract media attention to our efforts on the trolley,” he said during the event.
Laura Fink, a political consultant, became the second woman to publicly accuse Filner of unwanted sexual advances when she told a local television station on Tuesday that Filner patted her buttocks at an event in 2005, when Filner was a congressman.
“I’m a Democrat and I agree with his political values, but if he can’t represent his values, he should step down,” Fink told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
“This isn’t just a personal transgression. He doesn’t go after women on equal footing. He goes after women who need something from him, whether it’s their jobs or their causes,” she said.
Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Ken Wills