Featured NEWS

Elliott reflects on her career

City Attorney Mara Elliott

Elliott reflects on her career

By Ashley Shah

Mara Elliott is the San Diego city attorney as well as a resident of Scripps Ranch. She is serving the last of two consecutive terms as the San Diego city attorney, and she will be termed out this year. 

“I became a chief deputy city attorney in 2013 and very much enjoyed the leadership role. I had not considered running to replace City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who would term out in 2016, until a couple of City department heads suggested that I run. I couldn’t stop thinking about it once it was mentioned to me,” Elliott said. “I ended up running because I was concerned that issues that were important to me – protecting communities, gun violence, etc. – would not receive the attention they deserve under other candidates.” 

In her two terms, she has worked diligently on several projects including measures to improve gun violence prevention. 

“The Office has a national reputation for its gun violence prevention model that includes gun violence restraining orders. We received State grant funds to create a regional center for gun violence prevention … I want San Diego’s model to become the State of California’s model before I leave office in December 2024,” Elliott said. 

Alongside her gun violence prevention project, she has created services to help those experiencing domestic violence. 

“Your Safe Place, a Family Justice Center, located in downtown San Diego, offers free and confidential services to anyone who is experiencing domestic violence or human trafficking. I am looking forward to announcing a dedicated shelter for our clients before I leave office,” she said. 

In addition to these projects, Elliott has explored ethical loopholes to ensure there is a just government in the city. 

“I am unveiling an Ethics Reform Package beginning in January to address ethical loopholes. My package should fortify the public’s trust and make our government more transparent and equitable,” she said. 

She is proud of the progress that has been made through these projects. 

“As the City’s attorney, I am most proud of my work in the gun violence prevention arena. This is a program I built from scratch, and there was a significant chance I’d fail, but we’ve convinced other municipalities and our State’s leadership that our program works and can be replicated,” Elliot said. “Our work has saved countless lives.” 

As her term comes to end, she is thinking of her future plans. In addition, she is hoping that her successor will be able to continue some of the projects that she has worked on. 

“I have not decided on a position yet, but I do not see myself taking a long vacation after my city service ends,” she said. “To fill in my role, I am endorsing Heather Ferbert, who is the current chief deputy city attorney, because I have worked with her, and believe she would be well fit for the role.”

Elliott graduated from McGeorge School of Law in 1994. She has passed the bar exam in California, Kentucky and Colorado, and can practice law in all three states. 

“A woman had never led the San Diego City Attorney’s Office in our City’s 160 plus year history,” Elliott said. “I also raised children the entire duration of my term. Last, I am the child of a longshoreman and Mexican immigrant. I am hoping my story encourages those who do not have the presumed pedigree to run for office.”