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How To Run For Office

Election fundamentals

Elected city officials include the Mayor, City Council members and the City Attorney. Council members are elected by their districts and may be elected in the District Primary Election if they receive a majority of the votes cast. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the Primary Election, the names of the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes appear on the ballot at the General Municipal Election. The Mayor and City Attorney are elected at large, by the voters of the City of San Diego. Candidates for Mayor and City Attorney are nominated in the Municipal Primary Election. The names of the two candidates for each office who receive the highest number of votes in the Primary appear on the ballot at the General Municipal Election; except that any candidate for Mayor or City Attorney who receives a majority of the votes cast in the Primary Election is declared elected to that office.

Elections for all elected officials are consolidated with statewide elections held in the even-numbered years. Below is a summary of the basic requirements to run for office.

General requirements for candidacy

Candidates for public office in the City of San Diego must be citizens of the United States and at least 18 years of age. In order to run for Mayor or City Attorney, they must be a registered voter of the City of San Diego for at least 30 days prior to the date of filing nomination papers, and a resident in and registered voter of the City at the time of assuming the office. In order to run for Council office, they must be a registered voter of the appropriate Council district for at least 30 days prior to the date of filing nomination papers, and a resident in and registered voter of the district at the time of assuming the office.

Candidates must appear in person in the City Clerk's Office during the nomination period in order to obtain nominating papers.

Candidate orientations are scheduled for specific times during the nomination period. Please contact the Elections and Information Services Section at (619) 533-4000 for more information. All required papers must be filed at the same time, prior to the end of the nomination period. No candidate shall file nominating papers for more than one office at any election.

How to run for Mayor or City Attorney

Candidates must collect the nominating signatures of 200 registered voters of the City of San Diego. These voters must have been registered in the city for at least 30 days prior to signing the petition.

Candidates must pay a filing fee of $500. The filing fee may be completely offset, however, by submission of the valid signatures of an additional 2,000 registered voters.

More details

How to run for City Council

Candidates must collect the nominating signatures of 100 registered voters of the Council District from which the nomination is sought. These voters must have been registered in that district for at least 30 days prior to signing the petition.

Candidates must pay a filing fee of $200. The filing fee may be completely offset, however, by submission of the valid signatures of an additional 800 registered voters.

More details

2014 - Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8
  • 02/05/14 - 1st day to take out papers
  • 02/13/14 - 1st day to file papers
  • 03/06/14 - Last day to file papers
  • 06/03/14 - Primary Election
  • 11/04/14 - General Election
  • 12/08/14 - Inauguration/Term of office begins
2016 - Mayor, City Attorney, Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9
  • 02/10/16 - 1st day to take out papers
  • 02/18/16 - 1st day to file papers
  • 03/10/16 - Last day to file papers
  • 06/07/16 - Primary Election
  • 11/08/16 - General Election
  • 12/05/16 - Inauguration/Term of office begins

More information

For more information on running for office in the City of San Diego, please contact the City Clerk's Elections and Information Services Section at (619) 533-4000. You may also want to review provisions for nominations, San Diego Municipal Code sections 27.0201 through 27.0222 (PDF).

For information regarding the City's Election Campaign Control Ordinance [ECCO], which regulates contribution limits, payment of campaign vendors, disclosures required on campaign advertisements, etc., please contact the Ethics Commission at (619) 533-3476.