Campbell Is Only Third Democrat Elected to Represent District 2 in Over 40 Years

by on November 12, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Municipal Employees Assoc.


There’s lot of punditry talk these days how Jen Campbell’s election over Lorie Zapf will tilt the City Council into a 6 to 3 Democrat “super-majority” and how labor will now dominate the council and set the agenda, blah blah blah. (Which isn’t true. )

So, it’s helpful to reflect and get a more historical view of the district’s representation and when you do, you understand how the balance of power on the Council, a council dominated by Republicans for decades and decades, has now shifted to the party that has been out-of-power for so long.

For Jen Campbell is only the third Democrat to be elected to represent District 2 in over 40 years. 43 years to be exact.

The only other Democrats during these long years to represent Ocean Beach, Point Loma and the surrounding neighborhoods are Michael Zucchet and Maureen O’Connor. (Ed Harris, another Democrat, was appointed when Kevin Faulconer vacated the seat and assumed the Mayor’s in 2014).

District 2 has been dominated by Republican leadership for most of those 40 years. Now there is more balance in the universe.

To recap, before last week’s Mid-Terms, Zapf has held the office for 4 years, having moved to District 2 from District 6 – where she served for 4 years, and defeating in 2014 Democrat Sarah Boot, a virtual unknown. Harris was appointed earlier in 2014 with his pledge not to run that year for the seat.

Councilwoman-elect Jen Campbell

Kevin Faulconer was first elected to serve District 2 in November 2005, when an open seat due to Michael Zucchet’s early resignation, caused a mad rush to fill the position without an incumbent. Check out these notable locals who also ran: Lorena Gonzalez, Carolyne Chase, Rich Grosch, Kathly Blavatt, Ian Trowbridge, David Diehl. Faulconer with 34.4 per cent and Gonzalez who had 25 per cent advanced to the general election. Faulconer won with 51.2 per cent to Gonzalez’s 48.8 in January 2006

Faulconer won again in 2006 and 2010 against very weak candidates. Then in a special election to replace Mayor Bob Filner in November 2103, he and David Alvarez advanced past 9 other candidates in the primary. That February 2014, Faulconer defeated Alvarez in a runoff election.

Upon Faulconer’s election as mayor, Ed Harris, a Democrat, was then appointed councilman for District 2 on an interim basis (Gretchen Newsom was runner-up).

Michael Zucchet, one of the only 3 Democrats to represent the district in 4 decades, is from Point Loma, and was elected in 2002. Having won the primary in March, Zucchet went up against Faulconer in the general, and bested him 55.6 per cent to 44.3 per cent.

Then in what was called “strippergate” Zucchet and 2 other councilmembers were caught up in a campaign contribution scandal connected to a strip club owner. The three councilmen were charged by San Diego’s federal prosecutor and the 3 resigned from the Council. The other two included Ralph Inzunza – the only Mexican-American on the Council -, and Charles Lewis – the only African-American on the Council.

Lewis died before any trial. Zucchet and Inzunza were convicted. In Zucchet’s case, the judge threw out the jury’s findings and ordered a new trial that resulted in the dismissal of all charges against him in 2010. Inzunza was sentenced to 21 months in prison. (Since his exoneration, Zucchet has had the very visible role of managing the city’s public employee union.)

Prior to Zucchet, the District 2 seat was held by a series of Republicans, who are well-known today. Byron Wear (Conrad’s father) had it for two terms, 1995 to 2002. Ron Roberts had it before that for 2 terms, 1987 to 1995. (This reporter also ran in 1987 and received 1,182 votes in the Primary.)

Republican Bill Cleator held the district seat from 1979 to 1987.

And Maureen O’Connor, the only other Democrat – who went on to become mayor – was one of the youngest city council members ever when she ran in 1971 for the district seat; she won that race and again in 1975, staying till 1979. O’Connor was San Diego’s first woman mayor.

So, besides Campbell, only Zucchet and O’Connor have sat in the D2 chair as Democrats. And there you  have it, a little history of District 2, and how the GOP have controlled it for many years. Now, the cycle changes as the demographics have changed.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie November 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Here’s some more little history. Maureen O’Connor was a centrist Dem, having come out of the socially-conscious Catholic community. In May 1972, a resolution came before the city council to oppose the Vietnam war. O’Connor – the swing vote – voted no – and defeated the measure.

Angered, the huge crowd marched downstairs at city hall and burned her in effigy.


Geoff Page November 12, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Anyone who had not figured out that war by 1972 had to have been an idiot.


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