Campbell Responds to Recall: ‘Elites’ and ‘Extremists’ Are Behind Campaign

by on February 18, 2021 · 7 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Jen Campbell, currently siting in the District 2 chair of the City Council, has officially responded to the recall campaign organized by her constituents.

She said the recall campaign is being driven by “elites” and “extremists,” and is reckless, divisive, expensive and a distraction during the pandemic.

Campbell’s official response stated:

“This unnecessary recall election will cost taxpayers $2 million that should go to emergency COVID-19 response instead. Reject this reckless recall.”

According to the San Diego U-T: “The $2 million figure is what the county Registrar of Voters estimates as the cost for a special election, which would likely take place in late November or early December.”

Campbell’s statement attacked recall proponents, labeling them, “elites and extremists who expect our elected officials to work toward their interests, instead of building consensus to move all of San Diego forward.”

Her response focuses on her medical experience and how that is helping the city fight COVID-19. The statement describes her as a “board-certified medical physician with the unique experience we need now to protect public health, defeat the virus and get life back to normal.” The U-T commented that the statement did not mention that she is retired. Campbell is 75, and lives in the Bay Ho section of Clairemont. Her statement said:

“As a doctor and as your council president, my top priority will continue to be the well-being of all our families – and I won’t cave in to anyone who would compromise San Diego’s safe recovery to advance their own political agenda.”

Of course, we wouldn’t be in this place but for Campbell hobnobbing with elites: she worked with construction industry elites to get Measure E on the November ballot and she worked with the elite at Expedia – a multi-billionaire dollar home platform – to fashion together a so-called “compromise” on short-term vacation rentals.

Jen Campbell touted her medical expertise during her campaign. She failed to say that she had retired.

And in terms of her medical expertise – she has been MIA in dealing with some health concerns of her constituents in District 2. The whole RoundUp use at our city parks, beaches and playgrounds quickly comes to mind. Campbell had virtually no response on this matter – except to kick it to the County.

Plus it doesn’t appear to D2 residents that she has been on the front-lines of the pandemic. She has been noticeably absent in trying to deal with COVID on the neighborhood level.

The U-T commented on the recall proponents. Leaders of the recall campaign on Wednesday said the “elite” and “extremist” charges are a mis-characterization and contended they have broad-based support. Many community groups in D2 and the city’s Racial Justice Coalition have endorsed the recall. The RecallJen team says hundreds have volunteered to collect signatures. “We are not elites or extremists as Campbell suggests,” the campaign said in a prepared statement. “We are simply citizens who have watched Campbell ignore and damage our communities.”

The U-T:

Leaders of the recall campaign say Campbell, a Democrat who was narrowly elected council president in December, has been losing the trust of constituents by damaging quality of life, breaking promises and holding closed-door meetings with special interests. The recall campaign also criticizes her for supporting a ballot measure that lifted height limits near the sports arena and for proposing vacation rental legislation critics say is too lenient.

The recall campaign has until early June to collect more than 14,000 signatures from registered voters in coastal District 2, which Campbell has represented on the council since ousting Republican incumbent Lorie Zapf in 2018. If enough valid signatures are verified by the city clerk this summer, the City Council would be required to schedule a special recall election within six months. That election would include two decisions for District 2 voters: should Campbell be recalled, and who should replace her if she is recalled. Democrat Loxie Gant of Pacific Beach, 35, is the only candidate to emerge so far. District 2 includes a sliver of western Clairemont in addition to Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma and the Midway District around the sports arena.

The Beacon ran a similar article earlier this month. It quoted Campbell:

“At a time when the City is facing a budget deficit, a small group of individuals are trying to force San Diego residents to spend over a million dollars for a recall that might be held a few months before a regular election in 2022/ They may disagree with my policy, but don’t pick the pockets of our neighbors and communities who are suffering through a pandemic and a recession to pay for a special election.”

Campbell’s chief-of-staff Venus Molina also was quoted at the Beacon:

“It’s so disappointing because the people who are trying to recall us are the same people opposing us on short-term rentals; a fight they will never win because that ship has sailed. We cannot ban them. We cannot make them illegal. And they say, ‘If you won’t ban them, then we don’t want you.’”

“I can only imagine the class-action lawsuit we could probably encounter if we actually tried to remove that business opportunity from so many operators. I’m pretty sure Expedia and all the different Airbnb platforms would come after [the City]. The people pushing for our recall, would they be willing to pay for [the City’s] legal defense, and for the repercussions, the City will face if they (opponents) actually do what they want us to do (remove all residential STRs)?

Campbell’s compromise short-term rental plan is scheduled to be heard on Feb. 23 by the full City Council. An environmental challenge seeking to overturn E was filed back in August 2020 in San Diego Superior Court.

The Beacon did recognize that the recall petition was signed by 5 community leaders in District 2: Cathie (Jolly) Umemoto of Pacific Beach Town Council; Kevin Hastings, vice-chair of Ocean Beach Planning Board; Mandy Havlik of Peninsula Community Planning Board; Eric Cullen of Clairemont Community Planning Group; and Gary Wonacott, former Mission Beach Town Council president. Some of them were quoted.

Kevin Hastings:

“The City came to the OB Planning Board with an expensive replacement of a wheelchair ramp some accurately referred to as the ‘million-dollar ramp to nowhere.’” he said. “OB Planning Board wanted the City to re-imagine the ADA access and offered up superior (and likely cheaper) alternatives. I and other board members approached Campbell about appealing the project. Rather than entertain the idea, she demanded we drop the appeal. Her staff even resorted to threats: ‘We’ll declare you a rogue board’ and ‘you’re done’ if we didn’t drop the appeal.”

“She disregards community groups, and the only issues she’s led the way on were a complete 180-degree turns to long-standing interests of D2. I support this recall effort because I don’t see a light at the end of that tunnel. It would be irresponsible to let Campbell finish out her term in council.”

Gary Wonacott:

“I came away [from a meeting with Campbell] concluding she had no grasp of the issues and seemed to have trouble articulating any of her political positions except in generalities,” he said. “It became immediately obvious that she was avoiding venues requiring her to state positions. After six months of excuses that she was still coming up to speed, she disappeared altogether. She has not responded to calls and letters from her constituents in Mission Beach, who, left with no other alternative, have had to sue the City to get her attention.”

“She has refused to engage with her constituents on any level, lacking even the most fundamental socio-political communication skills. She chooses to diagnose and come up with therapies for community problems relying on special interests who know how to coddle her. And when confronted by a frustrated group of residents, her reaction is to ‘storm out.’ She has simply been a no-show, and now, she needs to go.”

Mindy Havlik:

“She sold out District 2 residents by signing a memorandum of understanding with Expedia allowing for short-term vacation rentals in residential areas without meaningful community inputs,” she said. “Then she solicited the community and local D2 community groups for inputs ‘after’ the memorandum was already signed effectively negating community inputs, even though several local community groups and planning boards opposed the proposal. Additionally, Campbell campaigned against short-term vacation rentals before she was elected. After she was elected, she changed course.”

She supported Measure E even though a majority of residents on the Peninsula voted against Measure E. She took this position after special-interest groups donated over $200,000 to the yes on Measure E campaign. Finally, I question her ethics in pushing through initiatives that will radically change the City for decades to come during a pandemic, when a majority of residents are unable to participate in the political process.”


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb February 18, 2021 at 3:15 pm

Can anybody cite any specific actions that the council member has taken with regard to Covid-19 health measures, vaccinations, etc., that she has relied on her medical education and experience to undertake? Not trying to take a shot at her. Just asking, since this appears to be a big part of her reaction to the recall.


John Thickstun February 18, 2021 at 7:24 pm

No, Paul.
And regarding the COVID related claims Campbell makes in her response, I asked a friend of mine, a UCSD research doctor (MD, PhD) to give me her take.
Here’s what she wrote – tracking by line.
“Dr. Jen Campbell moved quickly during COVID to save lives and livelihoods:
Enacted emergency public health orders, banned evictions.”
The Public Heath Orders were enacted by the County and the State. The City has passively stood by. For example, see this list of cease and desist orders issued by the County. Many of these businesses are within the city. Yet the San Diego U-T reported, ” fewer than 10 citations were issued in the final months of the year.” – under Jennifer Campbell’s “watch”.
Campbell and Mayor Gloria announced a big crack down to great fanfare. This “crack down” resulted in a grand total of five (5) citations.

On the vaccine front there was a real opportunity for the City to get involved and assist the County in setting up supersites. The first one, Petco Park, was a joint effort between UCSD, the County and the Padres. The City? Nowhere. For Campbell to take credit for this is simply laughable. The remainder are partnerships between medical organizations and the County and/or State. The City was/is in the back of the train, not the forefront. The City was given 1200 doses to administer – total. To put that in perspective, as of yesterday, UCSD has administered 170,702.

“Took action to stop illegal super-spreader events endangering our health.”
Campbell, Mayor Gloria and City Council allowed short term rentals (STVR) to continue to operate in violation of the State “stay at home orders” and did nothing to curb “COVID parties” in MB, PB, OB and other parts of the City. All while hotels were essentially shut down.
Finally, any and every action taken by the City, with regard to the pandemic, was done so with the unanimous or near unanimous consent of the City Council. The claims or suggestion by Campbell that she alone did anything is patently untrue.
Lots of eyerolling going on in the San Diego medical community – as it must be in City Hall, as well.


kh February 19, 2021 at 7:31 pm

She came out to veterans plaza when it was coming to a head and screamed and shouted at people “you better behave”. It was a crap situation and not necessarily of her doing. She set up for a press conference in the middle of a messy issue and didn’t notify SDPD in advance, and it was overrun by trolls.


David February 18, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Regarding people supporting her recall, even democrats are supporting her recall. For example, the Point Loma / Ocean Beach Democratic Club voted in favor of supporting her recall. This is one of the oldest neighborhood clubs around and is hardly eccentric.

Campbell is not a board certified infectious disease doc but is a family practice doc, so she brings little to control of a pandemic in terms of expertise.

Get her out before any more damage to San Diego


Geoff Page February 19, 2021 at 2:14 pm

David, I would daresay that that Democrats have spearheaded the recall effort. Campbell is a Republican in a donkey costume.


Tyler February 19, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Ah, yes. Campbell is of course a woman of the people. All those middle class vacation rental owners….


obsurfer March 9, 2021 at 11:16 am

She’s a slippery one. We will be fortunate to get rid of her and reverse what she’s done. Fingers crossed.


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