City of San Diego

City Attorney

Mara Elliott

Mara Elliott

Democrat | Birthdate: Oct 03, 1968 (Age 55)

City Attorney, City of San Diego

District Analysis

The San Diego City Attorney plays a pivotal role in the municipal governance of San Diego, acting as the chief legal advisor to the city, its elected officials, departments, and agencies. The City Attorney's Office is responsible for all municipal legal matters, including advising City Council and city departments, representing the city in litigation, and prosecuting misdemeanors within the city limits.

The City Attorney has the authority to file civil cases on behalf of the city and is tasked with defending the city in lawsuits against it. This role involves a broad range of legal disciplines from environmental law, land use, and zoning, to labor and employment. The office is also instrumental in drafting and reviewing ordinances, contracts, and other legal documents to ensure they comply with federal, state, and local laws.

In the realm of public safety, the City Attorney prosecutes misdemeanor offenses and infractions that occur within the city limits, which includes crimes such as DUI, domestic violence, and vandalism. This prosecutorial role is distinct from the District Attorney's Office, which prosecutes felonies in the county.

The position is an elected one, with the City Attorney serving as an independent voice within the municipal structure. The officeholder must balance the legal interests of the city as an entity with public interest, ethical considerations, and sometimes, the interests of the constituents who elected them.

Recent or notable San Diego City Attorneys have often taken the lead on high-profile legal issues. For example, Jan Goldsmith, who served from 2008 to 2016, was known for his work on pension reform and for navigating the city through bankruptcy proceedings related to the underfunding of city pensions. His successor, Mara Elliott, who took office in 2016, has been noted for her focus on consumer and environmental protection, as well as efforts to address gun violence and domestic abuse through gun control initiatives and restraining orders.

The City Attorney’s Office, with its mix of advisory, legislative, and prosecutorial responsibilities, plays a critical role in the functioning of San Diego's government, impacting a wide range of civic and legal issues.

Campaign for City of San Diego - City Attorney November 05, 2024
Candidate Last Report Total Raised Total Spent Debt Cash-on-Hand Net COH
headshot Brian Maienschein (D)
Assemblymember, California State Legislature
02-17-24 $185,827.00 $57,160.04 $0.00 $128,666.96 $128,666.96
headshot Heather Ferbert (D)
Deputy City Attorney
02-17-24 $93,237.42 $57,789.16 $4,214.76 $39,421.43 $35,206.67
* = Incumbent(s)
796,008 Registered Voters as of 01/02/24 D +26.16%
374,344 Voters
166,128 Voters
255,536 Voters
District Historical Candidate Performance
Election DEM REP Margin
2022 Gubernatorial Newsom - 65.14% Dahle - 34.86% D +30.3%
2020 Presidential Biden - 68.53% Trump - 29.12% D +39.41%
2018 Gubernatorial Newsom - 65.81% Cox - 34.19% D +31.62%
2016 Presidential Clinton - 64.8% Trump - 27.55% D +37.25%
2020 Census Data
Total Population Total White Hispanic Black Asian Native Pacific
1,389,863 40.7% 29.7% 7.6% 21.1% 2.6% 1.0%

2024 Primary Election Results (March 5, 2024)
Name Votes Vote % Vote Share
Heather Ferbert (D) 122,894 53.16%
Brian Maienschein (D) 108,264 46.84%
2020 General Election Results (November 3, 2020)
Name Votes Vote % Vote Share
Mara Elliott (D) 380,291 66.58%
Cory Briggs (D) 190,893 33.42%
2020 Primary Election Results (March 3, 2020)
Name Votes Vote % Vote Share
Mara Elliott (D) 208,767 67.86%
Cory Briggs (D) 71,672 23.3%
Pete Mesich 27,223 8.85%