Court Rules for S.D. Mayor's Inauguration

A state appeals court on Tuesday lifted an order that had stopped San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy (search) from being sworn in for a second term.

The ruling came one week after the court had barred certification of the results of the Nov. 2 election, which showed Murphy, a Republican, leading Democratic Councilwoman Donna Frye (search) by 2,108 votes.

Murphy, who has already declared victory, welcomed the ruling and called a City Council meeting Wednesday to certify the results and allow him to be sworn in.

"It's been a long journey but we're getting closer to the finish line," he told the council.

The appeals court acted in a lawsuit, filed by a supporter of third-place finisher Ron Roberts, that said the city violated its charter by allowing Frye to run as a write-in. It sought a new election between Murphy and Roberts, also a Republican.

The appeals court declined to consider whether the city violated its charter, saying the challenge should have come before the election.

The Roberts supporter who filed the lawsuit, John Howard, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

The final tally — which shows Murphy with 34.5 percent, Frye with 34.1 percent and Roberts, a San Diego County supervisor, with 31 percent — excluded ballots on which voters wrote Frye's name but failed to darken the adjoining oval. She estimates those ballots total up to 5,000, potentially enough to overtake Murphy.

The county registrar said state election law prohibited counting the empty-oval ballots, a position upheld last month by a San Diego County judge.

Frye refused to concede Tuesday, saying she planned to review her legal options.

Murphy would begin a second term in uneasy times for the nation's seventh-largest city. The FBI (search) is investigating officials involved in the city pension fund, which has a $1.17 billion deficit. The city manager and city auditor resigned this year under pressure.