The Hubris of Jen Campbell

by on October 23, 2020 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach


Hubris describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence, often in combination with (or synonymous with) arrogance.

Jen Campbell’s hubris is showing. The District 2 councilmember is suffering, it appears, from extreme or foolish pride and dangerous overconfidence. Her constituents have now learned that Campbell wants to be considered for City Council president. I wonder how many of them laughed out loud or said something else that’s unprintable when they heard this.

Jen Campbell for council president? What does the position do? The council president sets the council’s agenda and appoints members to the various committees. It’s not huge in these strong-mayor days, but it is something.

The Council – once the dust of the election is over – will elect the new council president in early December. With five new council members coming on board, Campbell – first elected in 2018 – is one of the “old-timers.” Councilwoman Monica Montgomery is also pursuing the position – and she, too, was elected in 2018.

This dangerous overconfidence on Campbell’s part shadows the dangerous under-confidence many of her constituents feel. People are not happy with Dr. Jen, especially those in the coastal neighborhoods of District 2.

She has made two major blunders in her short stay on Council. Her bulldozing – along with Chris Cate – the Measure E proposal through the internal workings of the council onto the November ballot, the measure to eliminate the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District certainly stands out.

Then, of course, there’s Campbell’s effort to legitimize short-term vacation rentals, coming up with an agreement with Expedia and the union that represents hospitality workers. Yet her constituents don’t like it (neither does Airbnb).

Why is Campbell being so risky?

The Voice of San Diego published this interesting account of Campbell making “a revealing gaffe.”

During a remote Council meeting, she forgot to mute her mic, so we all heard her half of a personal phone call. She was talking about a plan to take on the coastal height limit, when she said something that now feels newly relevant.

“I’m not chicken at all about it,” Campbell said. “What have I got to lose, right?”

Back in July, I wrote “After Two Missteps, Jen Campbell Has Lost Support at the Beach,” recounting her height limit attack and surrender to the home-destroying industry. After querying a number of community leaders, I found the complaints against Campbell on these two large issues opened up other criticisms about her. Arrogance was one of them. Disengagement from the communities was another. Not listening, thinking she knew better, ignoring complaints – it was a long list.

Recently, Dr. Jen claimed many people urged her to run for council honcho. The Voice reported:

Campbell didn’t want to name individuals who encouraged her to run, but said she’s spoken to people from the police union, Chamber of Commerce and organized labor, and other people who’ve worked in or with the city and “know how I roll.”

“I certainly never thought I’d be running, but many people asked me and I decided, ‘yes,’” she said.

I doubt whether Campbell asked her constituents what they thought. The general opinion at the beach right now about her is not very high. In fact, there’s even a recall campaign that is getting off the ground – they’re obviously waiting until after the election.

And among Democratic Party strategists who have their eyes on the ball, there’s a fear that Campbell’s “dangerous overconfidence” could create a vacuum in which a popular Republican could retake the District 2 seat.

In the meantime, of course, the residents of District 2 will have to see what happens. If Campbell is elected council president, that’s just one more reason she won’t be all that attentive to their needs and wants. That is dangerous – for her.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman October 23, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Hubris is a bad look for politicians these days. Jen Campbell asks what has she got to lose? Well, for one thing, becoming next president of City Council, especially if her opponent is infinitely better-qualified Councilmember Monica Montgomery.

Campbell also may lose her City Council seat in the next election, based on her turncoat sellout backing of Prop E to destroy the 30-foot height limit in the coastal zone and to allow short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.


tennyson clark October 23, 2020 at 9:45 pm

If elected it’ll be a short term as she won’t be re-elected to her council seat. Where do I find a recall petition to sign? In addition to the impact Measure E would have on height limits it should also be considered that there are 100’s of low cost housing units -low cost for SD – in this area. If Measure E passes, most of those units will be destroyed for more tourist friendly “attractions”. Where will all those people go?


Kathy Blavatt October 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

Does anyone with some law background want to explain how “Measure E” by Jen Campbell and Chris Kates was allowed. The Coastal Height Limit Prop D was an “Initiative” that was WON by signatures and won in the courts! The Convention Center and Stadium had to collect signatures to get Prop D on the ballot. This is a land grab of one of our largest chunks of public land, including MSRD which many voters don’t know is included. Public funds will be used for infrastructure, entitlements, etc. This sets so much bad precedence and is being fast-tract during COVID, no Brown Act, lame duck politicans, etc. A recall is sounding good.


Will October 25, 2020 at 9:14 am

Wasn’t Dr. Campbell the OBRag’s dream candidate when she ran and was elected?

What happened?


Chris October 25, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Simple answer is people and things change, and not always for the better.


Paul Webb October 26, 2020 at 8:25 am

Yes, people can change their minds, and people respond to new information or new issues, but Dr. Jen went way past that. After committing to support the 30-foot height limit and against STVRs, she did a complete 180 on two issues that are “third rail” issues in coastal communities. She explained her change of mind saying that she didn’t understand the issues before but now she does. I wish she would have campaigned on the platform of “I don’t understand the issues but want to be a member of the city council anyway.” That, apparently, would have been a more honest position.


John Titor October 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Ha! Don’t regret my vote for Zapf back in 2018.


Jeff October 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

John Titor…. you’re from the future, who wins Council President and the D2 election in the future? ;-)


tennyson clark October 31, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Neither do I, wish Lori would run again.


Frank Gormlie October 31, 2020 at 7:50 pm

Please, please, don’t forget: The Sins of Lori Zapf –


Doug Blackwood October 26, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Jen lied to us. Recall this Judas!


triggerfinger October 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Jen Campbell is an excellent politician. She has it all. Lies to the voters, totally disconnected from the community, cowtows to special interests… Pretends to be a democrat while working for the developers… She’s going places!


Geoff Page October 29, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Well, I’d have to agree on most points but she demonstrated recently that she is not the consummate politician because she showed she has a thin skin. When described as dishonest by a speaker who came on before her, she took umbrage and abruptly left the meeting.

Oh, wait, I think I’m wrong because by doing that, she managed to avoid answering any questions from the audience at all. Having been through a number of these grillings, none of which have been favorable to her, this was a way out unfortunately handed to her by a speaker.

If her visible reaction was the real thing, she’s not tough enough for the job.


Doug Blackwood October 29, 2020 at 7:02 pm

jen’s “gotta go go go goodbye” (name that band). Where’s the RECALL CAMPBELL petition?


Peter from South O October 29, 2020 at 9:19 pm

Ramones, of course.


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