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Five new San Diego City Council members will take the oath of office on Dec. 10. In their first official action later that day, the new Council will choose the next Council president, perhaps the most important decision of its tenure in these difficult and uncertain times. Will they choose the proven leader who earned the overwhelming support of a broad cross-section of San Diegans seeking a brighter future for everyone in our region? Or will they defy the wisdom and will of the people by choosing an obsolete status quo preferred by establishment insiders and backroom dealmakers? Historically, San Diego’s shadow government of moneyed interests has played a disproportionate role in the decision-making process while excluding large swaths of the population, particularly working-class communities of color, from having meaningful input. With this vote, the new City Council members can demonstrate their commitment to open, transparent and equitable government decision-making.
Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe is the most qualified to be our next Council president. She is an attorney, and worked in City Hall prior to being elected, including in the mayor’s office, and has the most knowledge about how the levers of the city work. As a Council member, she has continually demonstrated the vision, integrity and determination needed to lead the Council as we face critical issues like recovery from COVID-19, a housing affordability crisis, confronting biased policing and meeting our climate action plan goals. She has passed difficult pieces of legislation and consistently asked tough questions on a range of issues, all while steadfastly and compassionately representing her constituents.
As policymakers, the differences between Montgomery Steppe and Councilwoman Jen Campbell are stark. Montgomery Steppe consistently votes for social progress and strives to expand opportunity and inclusion for all San Diegans; while Campbell too often votes against social progress and the public good.
On the matter of San Diego’s franchise agreement with a power utility, Montgomery Steppe voted for a fair deal that addressed the public interest in mitigating climate change, and Campbell has sided with SDG&E and against advocates for the environment.
On the question of an ordinance criminalizing vehicle habitation, Campbell sided with the Police Officers Association and voted to further disadvantage people experiencing homelessness by making it against the law for them to take shelter in their car, while Montgomery Steppe voted against it.
Both the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and the San Diego County Democratic Party have weighed in to support Montgomery Steppe for Council president. Both endorsed and helped ensure the victories of newly elected Council members Stephen Whitburn, Marni Von Wilpert and Raul Campillo – all of whom ran on progressive platforms. If their allegiance is not owed to the community and the democratic institutions that elected them, who then is levying enough power to override the will of the people?
Over 500 individuals and over 50 organizations representing tens of thousands of voters throughout San Diego have publicly stated their support for Montgomery Steppe. In contrast, it is unclear the extent of community and public support for Campbell. That raises serious questions about transparency and accountability, especially when coupled with a whisper campaign to discredit Montgomery Steppe’s experience and mischaracterize her relationships in City Hall as unproductive.
Montgomery Steppe is a proven leader. She is a champion of the people who challenges the status quo in San Diego and in the process, makes us a better, stronger and more inclusive city where all San Diegans can live and thrive.
We call on the new San Diego City Council to choose Montgomery Steppe as the next Council President.
Mitchelle Woodson is executive director of Think Dignity in District 3. Aleena Jun Nawabi is administrative and outreach coordinator at CAIR and a District 5 resident. Yvonne Elkin is an activist and District 6 resident. Denice Williams is an admin/moderator for Black Girls Do Bike and a District 7 resident.