San Diegans will soon get a new mayor but some will be temporarily without a congressman.

Mayor-elect Bob Filner will be inaugurated Dec. 3 after 10 terms representing San Diego’s southern suburbs in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But state Sen. Juan Vargas, who was elected to replace Filner in a newly reconfigured district, won’t join the House until the new 113th Congress begins on Jan. 3.

That means the 51st District won’t have an advocate or a vote during a possible showdown over the “fiscal cliff,” which threatens an immediate tax bump and major budget cuts come midnight Dec. 31 unless Democrats and Republicans can make a deal.

A recent poll by the Los Angeles Times and USC revealed 3 in 5 Californians want compromise, something Filner or his replacement won’t be able to advocate for during the two weeks Congress is scheduled to be in session next month.

Still, Filner’s staff will remain in place until Vargas takes office, said Steve Dutton, spokesman for the House Administration Committee.

House rules call for the clerk, who generally oversees records, to manage an office if a representative dies, resigns or is expelled. It’s not clear when Filner plans to resign, and spokespeople for both his office and mayoral campaign could not be reached Friday.

Whenever Filner resigns, his congressional staffers will continue to help constituents struggling to deal with federal agencies and answer questions about pending legislation, Dutton said.

They just won’t get a voting representative until January.

This is another symptom of the swift turnaround expected from San Diego’s new mayor.

As we recently wrote, most cities with San Diego’s government structure give their new mayor at least two months to transition into the new role. Filner gets about a month to prepare. And his swift ride into office doesn’t jibe with the calendar followed by most other government bodies, in which new roles begin in January.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at or 619.325.0528.

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Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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