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My job is to manage the affairs of an association that markets the San Diego region as a world-class business destination. More than 150 San Diego businesses give us their money and trust to be a strong and responsible voice for regional competitiveness, job creation and economic prosperity.

Over the past few days, I have responded to articles and tweets from my colleagues at Voice of San Diego that were critical of the local business community’s silence regarding the sexual harassment allegations being directed at Mayor Bob Filner. Some business leaders have wanted to speak out aggressively. Others have wanted to stay silent.

I have argued with VOSD that this may not be a “business” or “jobs” issue and have pushed back against the accusations that the business community is using this tragic situation as an opportunity to take advantage of a weak mayor and push through pet projects and personal agendas.

But our silence and my arguments end today. As a proud San Diegan and as a voice for the businesses and partners I represent, I have joined with more than 30 business association leaders from across our region in asking Bob Filner to resign immediately from the office of mayor of San Diego.

It has become impossible to ignore how interconnected our region’s economic development efforts are with the mayor’s office. This interconnectedness is becoming more of a detriment every day.

First of all, this is, in fact, a business and jobs issue. As you will begin to hear in concrete terms from our region’s business leaders, the abuse allegations against the mayor are having a serious negative impact on our economy – and anyone who says otherwise should spend a day in my shoes.

We have had conversations with businesses contemplating moving and expanding to San Diego that have been dominated, jeopardized and derailed by questions, concerns and jokes about our mayor. Our collaborative projects involving the mayor’s office are paralyzed with uncertainty and confusion. Business leaders have threatened to back out of meetings critical to cross-border initiatives if the mayor attends. And with each passing day, we have had an increasing number of calls from business representatives – women and men – who want to make clear that they will not be in the same room with him.

In addition, I cannot allow any women on the team at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. to engage with the mayor – a serious problem, since nearly 70 percent of our team is female. It is clear that we can no longer work with the mayor to fulfill our obligations to our region.

But there is a far more important reason why the business community must now speak up. Most of the alleged misconduct by the mayor has taken place in a work setting. No business leader in this region can possibly condone a workplace where women are not respected, where they are intimidated, inappropriately touched, demeaned or are treated any differently than their male counterparts. It’s unacceptable, period.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So today, there are no more arguments to be made as to why this is not a jobs or business issue. There are no more logical explanations for anyone remaining silent. For the good of our city, our economy and our community, we urge the mayor to resign immediately.

Cafferty’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

Mark Cafferty

Mark Cafferty is the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

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