Robert Earl Filner (born September 4, 1942) is the U.S. Representative for California's 51st congressional district, and previously the 50th, serving since 1993, and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation, including much of San Diego's southern section, the cities of Chula Vista and National City and all of Imperial County. It includes most of California's border with Mexico, except for the city of Imperial Beach.
Early life, education and career
Filner was born in Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill. As a student at Cornell University, he participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, spending two months in a Mississippi jail for his efforts. Cornell Daily Sun, the student newspaper. He graduated from Cornell in 1963 with a degree in chemistry, and earned his doctorate in history of science from the same school six years later. Shortly after earning his PhD, he moved to San Diego, becoming a history professor at San Diego State University for more than 20 years. He resigned his position in 1992 to run for Congress.
Also, as a student, he worked as a member of the
Filner was long interested in politics, serving as a staffer for Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota in 1975 and for Congressman Don Fraser, also of Minnesota, in 1976. He also served as a staffer for Congressman Jim Bates from the San Diego area in 1984.
Mr. Filner has a daughter, Erin Filner, who is a social studies teacher at The Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford, NY. He also has a son, Adam Filner who is married and is the father of two young children.
Filner began his advocacy for civil rights at the age of 18 when he became one of the first people to set foot on a Greyhound bus that was headed into the deep south on what would become known as, the Freedom Rides. At the time he was a student at Cornell University where he was studying engineering. In June 1961, after pulling into the bus station in Jackson, Mississippi, Filner was arrested along with his co-riders for "disturbing the peace and inciting a riot".
It was there in Jackson, that Filner would stand up for what he believed in by not taking the easy road out. Filner refused to post bond in for his release and remained incarcerated in prison for two months.
His case was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States along with all the cases for other activists. It was when this happened, that they also overturned the laws for racial separation. This overturning of the case was nothing that Filner was pushing for though. Filner believes that what he did during that Freedom Ride is what he needed to do to have a say in what was happening.
In Filner's own words he says "I've never been a passive person". "I've always felt that, if you think something should be changed, it's your responsibility to actively pursue that change."
Early political career
His elective career began in 1979, when his opposition to the closing of a neighborhood school led him to run for the San Diego Board of Education, where he defeated a longtime incumbent. Even though he was the only Democrat on the board, his "back to basics" approach to education won him wide praise, and his colleagues elected him president of the board in 1982. For part of his tenure on the board, he served alongside Susan Davis, who now represents most of the other side of San Diego in the House. He was elected to the San Diego City Council in 1987.
He was handily reelected in 1991, and his colleagues elected him Deputy Mayor of San Diego. His main interest was in economic expansion.
U.S. House of Representatives
Filner is a founding member of the Progressive Caucus.
He is also a member of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus and International Conservation Caucus
He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.
Filner easily won re-election in November 2006, defeating Republican Blake Miles and Libertarian Dan Litwin. Filner won about 67 percent of the vote cast in the district. Miles received about 31 percent and Litwin about 2 percent.
In 2008, Filner sponsored a resolution, passed by the House of Representatives, in support of National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day.
In February 2009, a bill was filed in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipino citizenship on Filner, Senators Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka and Ted Stevens, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.
September 23rd, 2011