Councilwoman Dr. Jen Campbell speaks after re-election. Photo by Chris Stone
Councilwoman Dr. Jen Campbell speaks after re-election. Photo by Chris Stone

Democrats were on the way to holding every seat on the 9-member San Diego City Council as members of that party retained three seats Tuesday and flipped the last one held by a Republican.

District 2: Campbell in Command

Incumbent Jen Campbell led dentist/professor Linda Lukacs, a Republican, 56.5% to 43.5% in the district encompassing Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma and Clairemont neighborhoods.

City Council races, like all municipal races in California, are ostensibly nonpartisan.

A physician, Campbell received key endorsements from Mayor Todd Gloria and the majority of the county’s local and congressional representatives.

Campbell has in recent months won approval to regulate and reduce the number of short-term vacation rentals with the intent of freeing up hundreds of residences for the strained housing market in San Diego.

Additionally, she successfully pushed for regulations on sidewalk and pushcart vendors. She is one of the leading forces behind Measure C, which seeks to remove the coastal 30-foot height limit in the Midway area to allow for a stadium and affordable housing project there.

She has also joined efforts to ban flavored tobacco products and declare San Diego a safe city for reproductive freedoms and access to abortion.

Campbell survived a recall effort in 2021, led by residents opposed to her push to regulate short-term vacation rentals. She served as City Council President for a year before being replaced by Sean Elo-Rivera.

Lukacs was endorsed by the San Diego County Republican Party but said she would lead in a nonpartisan manner. She supports development in the Midway area as well, but not through Measure C and only once “the proper infrastructure is in place.” She backs police and says she wants them fairly compensated as well as to adopt a “community oriented policing” strategy.

She said she finds “The People’s Ordinance” regarding trash pickup to be inequitable in its current state.

“We live in a district that we can and should be proud of,” Lukacs said. “A place in which we feel safe and can enjoy our precious coastline and endless sunsets. A place where we can raise our families, build our businesses and a place where we can rely on an efficient, updated infrastructure that enhances our quality of life.”

District 4: Montgomery Steppe Above

Incumbent Monica Montgomery Steppe led Gloria Evangelista, a dietician and registered Republican, 68.1% to 31.9% in the district including the communities of Alta Vista, Broadway Heights, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Greater Skyline Hills, Jamacha, Lincoln Park, Lomita Village, North Bay Terrace, Oak Park, O’Farrell, Paradise Hills, Redwood Village, Rolando Park, South Bay Terrace, Valencia Park and Webster. 

Montgomery Steppe is a Democrat who ousted an incumbent in 2018. She supports police reform and has pushed back against police exemptions to a surveillance ordinance.

District 6: Lee Defeats Hough

Nonprofit director Kent Lee led fellow Democrat and environmental activist Tommy Hough 56.5% to 43.5% in their bids to replace termed-out Councilman Chris Cate — the only Republican currently on the San Diego City Council.

The district takes in the neighhborhoods of Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos and Sorrento Valley.

The rivals share ideas in most arenas, but have drawn differences in recent months over housing and The People’s Ordinance.

Hough, a former local radio host, serves as a county planning commissioner and has been actively campaigning for the position for several years, losing to Cate for the seat in 2018. His priorities include a hyperlocal focus on fixing roads and improving parks and libraries in the district.

He opposes the effort to repeal the People’s Ordinance, which would have every San Diegan -— homeowner and renter alike — pay a fee for trash collection.

“I’m tired of seeing our District 6 neighborhoods left behind by the city, and our concerns over basics like parks and roads being dismissed by an increasingly hubristic City Hall that seems to have lost patience for working with neighborhoods and more focused on implementing unrelated initiatives,” Hough told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

He was endorsed by the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and San Diego Progressive Democratic Club.

Lee is a first-generation immigrant who studied at UC San Diego. He was the executive director of Pacific Arts Movement, a media arts organization focusing on Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander cinema and which hosts the annual San Diego Asian Film Festival. He stepped down from the role to campaign.

Lee was endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party, the San Diego Regional Chamber, Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Sean Elo- Rivera.

District 8: Moreno Over Martinez

Councilwoman Vivian Moreno led challenger Antonio Martinez 63% to 37% in the district including the Barrio Logan, Egger Highlands, Grant Hill, Logan Heights, Memorial, Nestor, Ocean View Hills, Otay Mesa East, Otay Mesa West, San Ysidro, Shelltown, Sherman Heights, Stockton and Tijuana River Valley.

Moreno, a Democrat, faced Martinez in 2018 and won by just over 600 votes. She earned council approval to pave dirt roads and alleys in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. She has been on maternity leave since giving birth on Aug. 31.

Her priorities include making sure the far-flung, noncontiguous District 8 — which covers Barrio Logan and Logan Heights as well as the border-adjacent communities on San Ysidro and Otay Mesa — is not forgotten or overlooked in terms of city funding and services, as it has been historically.

“It has been a tough two years for our friends, family and neighbors,” Moreno said. “As your council member, I have been fighting to ensure the recovery of our neighborhoods and families was and continues to be the focus of the city. We need to push the city to do more.”

Martinez, a Democrat, is a staffer for Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and is a board member of the San Ysidro School District.

His priorities include establishing an infrastructure maintenance plan for the district, establishing a program for People of Color first-time homebuyers, cleaning the Tijuana River Valley and building more inclusionary housing.

“If you’re working two or three jobs, if your family is working two or three jobs, and you still can’t make ends meet, there’s something seriously wrong with what we’re doing,” he told KPBS.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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Ellen Bullock