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San Diego County Supervisors to discuss replacing Nathan Fletcher at May meeting

Chairwoman Nora Vargas said she wants to assure residents that she and her colleagues are committed to moving the process forward.

SAN DIEGO — The county Board of Supervisors will discuss options on finding a replacement for Nathan Fletcher -- who is resigning amid allegations of sexual assault -- at its May 2 meeting, Chairwoman Nora Vargas said Tuesday.

Vargas said at the start of Tuesday's meeting that the past week had been challenging for the board and county government, in the wake of Fletcher's announcement.

Vargas said she wants to assure residents that she and her colleagues are committed to moving the process forward. Vargas said over the next few weeks, supervisors will follow a process established by its policies and charter, which gives options on filling the future vacancy.

"United and with your input, our board will determine the best direction for our county," said Vargas.

Fletcher announced March 26 he was entering a treatment center for post-traumatic stress, trauma and alcohol abuse, and he abandoned a planned run for state Senate.

He then announced his resignation late Wednesday night, following a tumultuous day in which he admitted having an affair with a woman who then sued him, alleging he sexually assaulted and harassed her.

In a statement, Fletcher said he was resigning from the Board of Supervisors at the request of his wife, former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, to focus on his mental health.

First elected in 2018, Fletcher will officially resign from his District 4 seat at 5 p.m. May 15. Fletcher also resigned as chair of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit against Fletcher, former MTS Public Information Officer Grecia Figueroa, alleges Fletcher groped her on two occasions and pursued a sexual relationship with her for months, leading to her abrupt firing on the day Fletcher announced his state Senate candidacy.

Fletcher admitted having an affair but denied the allegations of assault and harassment.

"The strain on my wife and family over this past week has been immense and unbearable," Fletcher said in a statement. "A combination of my personal mistakes plus false accusations has created a burden that my family shouldn't have to bear. I will be resigning from the Board of Supervisors, effective at the end of my medical leave," Fletcher said in a statement.

Fletcher is one of the three Democrats, along with Vargas and Terra Lawson-Remer, on the technically nonpartisan board.

According to the county Communications Office, the county's charter allows the Board of Supervisors to fill a board vacancy "by appointment, by calling for a special election, or by a combination of the two."

Fletcher's colleague Jim Desmond on Tuesday said Fletcher should not wait until next month to step down, instead calling for his immediate resignation. 

"Lets rip the Band-aid off and get it done," Desmond told CBS8. 

"I don't  think we should be paying him anymore, and the fact that he used PTSD  as an excuse for sexual harassment to me, is disgraceful to veterans who do actually have PTSD," Desmond added. "He may have it, but it wasn't the cause of his sexual harassment charges."

Desmond, a Republican, added that Fletcher will continue to receive a county salary and benefits for weeks during his absence.

While Fletcher is still receiving his county salary, according to Desmond, Fletcher had previously waived medical coverage through the county, so any potential costs of the current treatment he's receiving is not being borne by the county.

Supervisor Joel Anderson said he doesn't condone any of Fletcher's actions, "but at the end of the day my concern is not about getting even with him -- it's about doing right by his constituents.

"My constituents do not like when politicians from outside our community tell them what its best for them; I would not presume to do that to District 4 residents," said Anderson, who is also a Republican. "But it is important that we all know what the options are, which is why I have reached out to county counsel to provide concrete answers, so we are not making decisions based on pure speculation."

In a statement via Twitter on Thursday, Vargas wrote that she was "deeply disturbed" by the allegations against Fletcher and supported his resignation.

"We must work to create a safe environment for all the dedicated people who work in San Diego County, and I won't accept anything less," Vargas stated.

Lawson-Remer in an earlier statement didn't address the controversy directly.

"We have made great progress over the last several years, and we will continue to move forward our transformative vision for a county that works for everyone," she added. "I have every confidence in our chairwoman and look forward to working with my colleagues to keep delivering for our region."

During a public comment period Tuesday, several residents called on Fletcher to resign immediately.

A man who called in to the meeting said Fletcher's PTSD "does not excuse his cheating or lying ... The truth will catch up to all of you in time."

Moving forward, the board will have the option to either appoint a replacement for Fletcher, who would then serve out his current term through January 2027, or call for a special primary and special general election at an estimated cost of $2 million each, according to Desmond.

"We got homeless problems, we got housing problems, all sorts of other issues to deal with," Desmond said,. "Four million dollars for two elections is a lot."

WATCH RELATED: Nathan Fletcher facing allegations of sexual misconduct from second woman (March 2023).


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