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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election

City of San DiegoCandidate for City Attorney

Photo of Mara W. Elliott

Mara W. Elliott

Chief Deputy City Attorney
68,020 votes (24.21%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Safe Neighborhoods: Add Neighborhood Prosecutors in every community.
  • Protect Victims: Swift justice for domestic abusers. Protect seniors from fraud.
  • Fair Wages: Prosecute wage theft. Enforce fair wage laws. Equal pay for equal work.



Profession:Chief Deputy City Attorney
Chief Deputy City Attorney, City of San Diego (2009–current)
Vice President, San Diego Law Library Board of Trustees — Appointed position (2015–current)
Senior Deputy County Counsel, County of San Diego (2002–2007)
Deputy General Counsel, San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board (2000–2002)
Associate, Lozano Smith (1998–2000)


McGeorge School of Law Juris Doctor (J.D.), Law (1994)
UC Santa Barbara Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), English, Philosophy (1990)

Community Activities

Government Relations Committee, National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2000–current)
School Site Council, San Diego Unified School District (2014–current)


I’m running to put my proven experience as Chief Deputy City Attorney to work providing trusted, non-partisan legal advice focused on the law, not politics. With nearly twenty years of municipal law experience, I’m ready to hit the ground running on day one to get things done for our city, its neighborhoods, and taxpayers. As Chief Deputy City Attorney, I’ve reformed city contracting practices to save taxpayer money that can be invested in core services. I’ve identified wasteful spending and rooted out inefficiencies at City Hall so that precious tax dollars can be better spent in our neighborhoods. I advise the City’s Audit and Environmental Committees.

In recent years we’ve seen how important the City Attorney’s office is. We’ve paid the price for City Attorneys who ignored or failed to identify critical issues, and those who have put their own political agendas and careers ahead of serving the City. That’s not acceptable to me. San Diego’s residents deserve a City Attorney they can trust to be fair, put the law first, and not let politics get in the way. For me, this office is about continuing a nearly two-decade career dedicated to public service. It’s about protecting taxpayers and defending our city.


Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (2)

  • Deputy City Attorneys Association
  • Run Women Run

Elected Officials (3)

  • Councilwoman Marti Emerald
  • Former City Attorney John W. Witt
  • Former Senator Christine Kehoe

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy


My vision for the City Attorney’s office is focused on delivering results to ordinary people.  My priorities are set forth in my ‘First 100 Days Plan,' available at This Plan describes my priorities, my values, and what kind of City Attorney I’ll be. My Plan is focused on action.  It’s about hitting the ground running to support working families, protect our environment, and strengthen public safety in all our neighborhoods.  It’s about bringing transparency and reform to City Hall.  It’s about getting things done for ordinary folks in all of San Diego’s diverse communities. These are the issues I’ve delivered on as Chief Deputy City Attorney and the reasons I’m running to be your next City Attorney.

Position Papers

First 100 Days Plan



My ‘First 100 Days Plan’ is focused on action.  It’s about hitting the ground running to support working families, protect our environment, and strengthen public safety in all our neighborhoods.  It’s about bringing transparency and reform to City Hall.  It’s about getting things done for ordinary folks in all of San Diego’s diverse communities.





·        A Neighborhood Prosecutor In Every Community.  My top priority for public safety is expanding San Diego’s Neighborhood Prosecutor Program to prevent crime, protect our most vulnerable citizens from abuse, and build much needed trust with local communities.  I will immediately assign a Neighborhood Prosecutor to work directly from each of the City’s nine police divisions so all neighborhoods get the resources they need to reduce crime.


·        Expanding Transparency In Law Enforcement. I will immediately issue a legal memo to the Mayor and our Police Department recommending expanded public access to police body camera footage in cases where lethal force is used or when serious misconduct has occurred.  The public has a right to know what’s happening on its streets and how its tax dollars are being spent. I will fight for increased transparency and public access.


·        Tackling Domestic Violence, Child and Elder Abuse.  In my first three months in office, I will work directly with the courts to expedite the issuance of temporary restraining orders to keep predators away from women, children, and elders.  I will also assign additional Deputy City Attorneys to the Domestic Violence Unit and work with local law schools and pro bono legal counsel to provide the resources needed to more aggressively prosecute abusers and provide victims with the help and protection they need.




·       Fighting For Equal Pay for Equal Work.  Despite years of progress, women still earn just .77 for every dollar earned by men, making it hard for working families to make ends meet.  I will prosecute City contractors who violate fair pay laws.  I will work with women’s advocates and the legal community to ramp up a comprehensive public education effort to ensure women understand their rights to equal pay for equal work and have the tools to fight discrimination at work.


·       Enforcing San Diego’s Fair Wage Laws.  I will create a specialized unit within the City Attorney’s office focusing on prosecuting unscrupulous employers and City contractors who falsify payroll records, do not pay all wages earned, and who fail to comply with San Diego’s minimum wage, prevailing wage, and living wage laws.  In her First 100 Days, I will create a bilingual Wage Theft Hotline and work with the District Attorney’s Office and US Department of Labor to ensure San Diego workers get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.


·       Expanding the City’s Consumer Protection Efforts.  The City Attorney’s Office will reassign more Deputy City Attorneys and Investigators to an expanded Consumer Protection Unit focused on protecting working families from financial fraud and other abuses.  This will include cracking down on telephone scams that target our seniors, holding slumlords accountable when they fail to maintain habitable rental units, and taking a more proactive approach in consumer fraud cases on behalf of homebuyers and taxpayers.



·      Holding Polluters Accountable.  San Diego’s beautiful environment is at the core of local residents’ quality of life.  Under my leadership, the City Attorney’s Office will redouble its efforts to prosecute illegal pollution of waterways and open space.  In my first six months in office, I will form an Environmental Health Working Group to tackle the pollution, lead paint, and other environmental hazards that harm families’ and children’s health.


·       Tackling Climate Change Through Clean Energy.  As shown by my record as Chief Deputy City Attorney and as legal counsel to the Committee on the Environment, I understand how to implement San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for 100% renewable energy by 2050.  As City Attorney, I will ensure clean energy projects get approved quickly and efficiently to tackle climate change and create jobs.  That means cutting through City Hall’s red tape and assigning more Deputy City Attorneys to climate change related projects.




·       Prioritizing Neighborhood Services, Not Costly Litigation.  The City Attorney’s Office can deliver better services that make a difference in people’s lives without raising taxes.  I will reallocate resources at the City Attorney’s office to spend less on costly, and often wasteful, litigation, and focus on making a difference in ordinary folks’ lives.


·       Fiscal Audits and Competitive Bidding To Save Tax Dollars.  On day one, I will demand an independent fiscal audit of the City Attorney’s office to determine areas where wasteful spending can be eliminated and cost savings implemented.  One of my immediate reforms will be instituting competitive bidding for all city contracts, many of which are currently awarded without a competitive process.


·       An Accessible, Transparent City Attorney’s Office.  I have pledged to hold quarterly town halls throughout San Diego to ensure that the public has a say in City Hall decisions.  In addition, I will ensure that Deputy City Attorneys attend community planning group and town council meetings so the City Attorney’s Office hears the concerns of local residents first hand. 


Videos (1)

— May 14, 2016 Mara Elliott for San Diego City Attorney 2016

A description of Mara Elliott's experience and issues.

Candidate Contact Info

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