Campbell Selected as Council President But Still Faces Invigorated Recall Effort Back in Her District

by on December 11, 2020 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Despite a tide of public opposition, the newly-sworn in City Council voted to install Jen Campbell as San Diego’s new Council president Thursday night. The vote was narrow:  5-4 vote after nearly seven hours of public testimony. The lone Republican still on the Council, Chris Cate, got to play spoiler and voted for Campbell.

As the Union-Tribune reported:

“The vast majority of the roughly 300 residents who spoke at the meeting lobbied council members to choose Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe as council president instead of Campbell. They said Montgomery Steppe, who is Black, would be a better leader and a more effective advocate for racial justice and social equity than Campbell, who is White. Both women are Democrats.”

Council members voting for Campbell were herself, Chris Cate, Stephen Whitburn, Marni von Wilpert and Raul Campillo. Council members voting for Montgomery Steppe were herself, Vivian Moreno, Joe LaCava and Sean Elo-Rivera.

KPBS reported:

Montgomery Steppe, the only Black elected official in the city, had the overwhelming support of those who called in to provide public comment. Many called her a champion of racial and social equity, criminal justice reform and community-driven change. She also won support from a long list of community-based organizations, the San Diego County Democratic Party and the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Now that Campbell has been elevated to the new position, she still faces an invigorated recall effort back in her home District 2, which includes Ocean Beach, Point Loma, the Midway District, Mission Beach, and most of PB and west Clairemont.

Campbell has angered residents at the beach and coast for her promotion of short-term vacation rentals and her successful push to eliminate the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District. In both of these efforts, Campbell has shunted aside community groups, town councils and planning committees. Which is why it was ironic that she touted improving communities as one of her assets that made her worthy of council president.

If Campbell is indeed recalled – a tough, uphill task even in non-pandemic times – then the Council will have to return to this issue. But the animosity against Campbell is so great at the beach, that perhaps recall organizers will be able to pull it off. They need 15,000 signatures from D2.

Back at the public testimony Thursday, the U-T:

Residents lobbying for Montgomery Steppe said her leadership is needed at a time when the city is grappling with concerns about systemic racism and the lack of social equity experienced by communities south of Interstate 8.

They criticized council members who support Campbell, contending they were doing so because of pressure from labor unions and other “special interests.”

The speakers who favored Campbell simply stated their support for her without providing detailed reasons.

Again, Montgomery Steppe had been endorsed by the local Democratic Party and Labor Council.

From KPBS:

Some who called in to the meeting said the council majority’s support for Campbell was the result of backroom deals struck with special interests. Will Rodriguez-Kenney, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party and backer of Montgomery Steppe, was blunt in his response to the decision.

“None of this matters because of powerful special interests have locked up this decision behind closed doors, and I’m left feeling powerless,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said. …

Some remarks by Campbell drew scorn from listeners to the meeting who said she failed to grasp the seriousness of racial inequity in San Diego. When asked by Councilmember Elo-Rivera what she would do to advance equity in the city, Campbell told a story of when she was eight years old and was upset by a commercial for “skin-tone” Band-Aids that only matched white skin.

Councilmember Moreno, the only council member Thursday to speak up, said Montgomery Steppe had “a deeper understanding of equity issues. … We’re facing a reckoning with our country’s history of racial injustice. It will take intentional policy reform to right these wrongs. Equity will not happen by itself.”

Stepping back a moment, this was the very first decision by the new council and it doesn’t appear the newbies did much homework for this vote. What’s clear is the new “super-majority” of Democrats on the city council are split into two wings; the moderate wing and the progressive wing. Campbell represents the moderate wing – and maybe Chris Cate has found a new home.

Go here for more on Recall Campbell.




News sources:

San Diego Union-Tribune





{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi Curry December 11, 2020 at 11:41 am

What a disaster!


Geoff Page December 11, 2020 at 12:06 pm

So, let’s make a little history and recall the city council’s president. This should add fuel to that effort.


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