Jen Campbell Does Not Deserve to Be San Diego City Council President

by on November 12, 2020 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Map of District 2

Part of map for Measure E “no” votes.

For the first time – probably ever – there is an ongoing public battle over who will be the next Council President of the San Diego City Council. Councilwomen Jen Campbell and Monica Montgomery Steppe – both Democrats elected in 2018 – have publicly declared their desire to become the next Council president.

Usually, the race for a position that controls the Council’s agenda and is in charge of committee appointments is under the radar, behind the scenes. As the Voice of San Diego recounts, “That process has broken wide open now, and interest groups are lined up behind the two visions.”

On December 10, the five newly-elected council members will be inaugurated and their first order of business is choosing a president. The Voice:

The race is in some ways breaking down as a moderate bid from Campbell, with the support of institutional players against Montgomery Steppe, a more progressive figure with the support of outside activist groups.

Both Campbell and Montgomery Steppe, though, are coming off an election in which they celebrated big wins even though they weren’t on the ballot. Campbell was a driving force behind Measure E, the move to remove the 30-foot coastal height limit in the Midway district. Montgomery Steppe led the charge to put Measure B, which created a new, empowered commission to oversee police misconduct, on the ballot, after two previous attempts died procedural deaths in City Hall before going before voters. Voters approved both convincingly.

If Campbell is relying on her successful Measure E, others around the city need to understand that it appears (without a scientific study of each precinct) that voters in her District 2 voted against the measure (see maps).

The OB Rag has already outlined Jen Campbell’s hubris and how her constituents of the coastal neighborhoods of District 2 have turned against her  mainly due to her efforts to undermine the 30-foot height limit and to legitimize short-term vacation rentals – two key issues for them.

Montgomery Steppe’s supporters have created a web page for her candidacy, asking supporters to sign on to the effort and listing the nonprofit and advocacy groups that were already on board. Residents of District 2 – without their own petition against Campbell’s candidacy – can sign up on the website.

Even though some activists and political groups have signed up for Montgomery Stepp, others are staying out of the fray. Carol Kim, political director of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council,  said they wouldn’t take a public position in the race. Likewise, the Police Officers Association is not taking a formal position.

Those who are taking a position in favor of Montgomery Stepp include the Center for Policy Initiatives, the Environmental Health Coalition, San Diegans for Justice, Mid-City CAN, Pillars of the Community and a local teachers union chapter.

The Voice quoted Masada Disenhouse, executive director of environmental organization SanDiego350:

“Part of our conversation is, maybe this shouldn’t be behind the scenes. There’s this idea that this is a decision between the Council members, but it’s really between the Council members and a few large special interests. I personally think it would be better if it was more public, and San Diegans have some more visibility into why a certain person gets chosen and how it gets chosen.”

Tasha Williamson, a homelessness and criminal justice reform advocate who ran for mayor in the primary, is urging people to call into Council meetings between now and the vote to advocate for Montgomery Steppe, arguing that “power players … are showing and telling us they will fight against every Black woman attempting to lead the Council.”

“In the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders, as a region we’ve united to lift black voices,” Williamson wrote. “Why would Jen Campbell, a white woman chose to run against a more qualified Black woman in 2020? Question Your Systems! This underscores all that is wrong in San Diego politics.”

Bottomline: Jen Campbell does not deserve to be City Council president because she has lost the backing and support of her District 2 constituents.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman November 12, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Monica Montgomery Steppe — she got married in August — is what this City needs in a Council President –a person of intelligence, commitment to community-over-self, honesty and integrity. As the OB Rag notes, there could not be a greater contrast to contestant Jen Campbell who offers San Diego business-as-usual. Campbell just sold out her own district to unregulated dense high-rise redevelopment (Prop E) and other neighborhoods to the VRBO industry.


Cynthia Thorsen December 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Well stated Fran!


triggerfinger November 16, 2020 at 10:09 pm

The race-baiting from Tasha is disgusting. Being black isn’t a qualification, nor is being white. But let’s talk about Campbells complete and utter failure to represent the residents in her district.

Anyone else want to take a stab at it? Pretty sad lot here.


Luca December 8, 2020 at 12:23 am

@triggerfinger: By your comment calling it “race baiting” I can tell you do not know what systemic racism truly is. Racism is more than not calling someone the n word and being nice to everyone (what I use to think it was). It is much more insidious than that and subtle to most people, especially white or white-passing (like myself) people.

I highly suggest you try reading “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. It is so good and what systemic racism, white supremacy, and other oppressions we all perpetuate are and how to identify them and not play into them just clicked when I read this book. I HIGHLY suggest trying it out and seeing if it clicks for you. If it does, I guarantee you’ll be grateful you read it. Then pass it on to someone else!


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: