Kent Lee
Kent Lee. Campaign photo

The city of San Diego swore in its 74th City Council Monday, bringing about an entirely Democrat council for the first time in the city’s history.

Outgoing Councilman Chris Cate, who was the only Republican on the ostensibly nonpartisan council, thanked his family, staff and colleagues in his departing remarks — even though he sometimes disagreed ideologically with the latter.

“From the outset, I knew that our time in office would be short,” he said. “I’ve found that it is possible to have differences in opinion with my colleagues and still find a way to deliver for San Diegans.

“My team and I have helped thousands of San Diego families, passed meaningful policies, advocated for underserved communities, supported our local businesses — especially during the pandemic — and repaired several miles of streets and sidewalks,” he said.

Cate represented City Council District 6, an Asian American and Pacific Islander Empowerment district. He touted policies specifically helping members of that community, including eliminating fees for home-based businesses, strengthening penalties for illicit massage parlors to address human trafficking and helping establish the Convoy Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District.

Replacing him in District 6 is nonprofit director Kent Lee. Lee was sworn in Monday by 95-year-old Tom Hom, the first Asian American and non-white member of the San Diego City Council, breaking that color barrier in 1963.

Lee, the son of two immigrants, will become only the fourth AAPI councilman, following in the footsteps of Hom, now-Mayor Todd Gloria and Cate.

“We can and we must do better,” he said. “Our message connected resoundingly with voters. It is my honor to follow in your footsteps.”

Lee was the only newly elected council member, but Councilwomen Jennifer Campbell, Monica Montgomery Steppe and Vivian Moreno were each re- sworn in. Campbell was sworn in by Assemblyman Chris Ward, Montgomery Steppe by her husband Steven Hayes Steppe and Moreno by Assemblyman David Alvarez.

At Monday afternoon’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting, the body will select a council president.

–City News Service


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Ellen Bullock