Three candidates are running to replace Nathan Fletcher so far
By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left to right: Monica Montgomery Steppe, Amy Reichert,and Janessa Goldbeck
May 24, 2023 (San Diego) – Supervisors have authorized an Aug. 15 special primary election to fill the vacancy in District 4 left by Nathan Fletcher’s resignation Candidates must file paperwork to run at the Registrar of Voters’ office between May 30 and June 6, though if they wish to submit signatures instead of a filing fee, they must pick up those forms by this Friday. If no candidate wins a majority of votes in the primary, then a general election will be held on Nov. 7.
District 4 includes the East County communities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Crest, Dehesa, Casa de Oro, Spring Valley, Mt. Helix, and Rancho San Diego as well as San Diego neighborhoods including Clairemont, Hillcrest, Balboa Park, North Park, Bankers Hill, Old Town, Mission Hills, Normal Heights, University Heights, Oak Park, Valencia Park, Encanto, Bay Terraces, Paradise Hills, Birdland, SerraMesa, Civita, and parts of Grantville, City Heights, Rolando, Azalea Park, Chollas Creek, Rolando Park, Kensington, Talmadge, Mid-City, Montezuma Mesa, SDSU and Mission Valley.
Fletcher resigned after allegations that he harassed and sexually abused a Metropolitan Transit District employee while he was serving as MTS chair. The alleged victim has filed a lawsuit against Fletcher and MTS. Fletcher resigned from MTS but has claimed the relationship with the employee was consensual, which she denies.
With three and a half years remaining in Fletcher’s term, the remaining four Supervisors unanimously agreed to approve a special election instead of appointing someone to fill the vacancy. So voters will decide on their next Supervisor, with options to vote by mail or in person at 14 vote centers, seven of which will offer early voting for 10 days before the Aug. 15 primary.
The primary election will cost between $2.1 million and $2.6 million. If a general election is required, it would also cost that much, meaning taxpayers could foot the bill for up to $5.2 million.
Candidates in the running
So far, three candidates have launched campaigns for the seat:
- Monica Montgomery Steppes, a Democrat and President Pro Tem of the San Diego City Council;
- Amy Reichert, a Republican, founder of ReOpen San Diego who ran in 2020;
- Janessa Goldbeck, a Democrat, Marine veteran and CEO of Vet Voice Foundation
District 4 has never had a woman representative, but that appears poised to change if any of the three women who have announced so far win the election.
Below is more information about the candidates' backgrounds, issue priorities, and endorsements.
Monica Montgomery Steppescalls herself “the people’s Councilmember.” Representing the Fourth District on the San Diego City Council, she advocates for equitable practices in governmentand improved relationships between community members and police, while also reducing the murder rate in her district by 50%. If elected, she would be the first black woman Supervisor.
Besides serving as City Council President, she chairs the Budget & Government Efficiency committee and serves on these committees: Public Safety, Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations, Active Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Rules committee. She also serves on the MTS Board of Directors, San Diego Workforce Partnership and other area agencies. Her leadership drew awards from Voice of San Diego, Alliance San Diego, and the San Diego Democratic Party.
She holds a law degree from Calif. Western School of Law. She has worked as a criminal justice advocate for the ACLU and as Senior Policy Advisor for the City of San Diego before her election to the City Council. On the Council, she led efforts for police reforms and creating the Office of Race and Equity. She has supported increased support for small businesses and job training, investing in marginalized communities, building affordable homes for seniors and veterans, and increasing services for homeless people and those battling addiction.
If elected Supervisor, she wants to create jobs and opportunities for working families, also investing in small businesses, workforce development programs, job training and apprenticeships, as well as expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs and startups. She favors increasing the county’s minimu8m wage and supporting affordable housing, also investing in homeless shelters and services, mental health, and increasing access to affordable healthcare in under-served communities, as well as investing in parks and green spaces. In addition, she wants to increase Supervisors’ oversight over law enforcement, reduce jail deaths and build out public safety to assure that first responders and neighborhoods have resources needed to reduce crime.
She is endorsed by Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, La Mesa City Councilmember Patricia Dillard, San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, Service Employees International Union Local 221, San Diego Community College District President Maria Nieto Senour and others. She was raised in San Diego and is married to Steven Steppe.
“I know how the system works, and I’ve proven we can make it better,” she states on her website. “As District Four’s Councilmember I have seen the strengths and weaknesses of our regional government in dealing with our biggest challenges. Together, we fought for what we deserved at City Hall. Now, we can serve even more San Diegans. It’s time to move forward and build trust in San Diego County.”
Amy Reichert is conservative activistwho became involved in politics during the pandemic, fighting to “safely reopen” businesses at a time when businesses and families were struggling. As a mother, she also focused on reopening schools and protecting jobs of responders, teachers and healthcare workers during the pandemic. Shefounded the nonprofit Reopen San Diego, calls herself a “woman on a mission” and says she is running to “restore life, liberty and love to San Diego.”
Her priorities are lowering the cost of living, solving the homeless epidemic, and increasing public safety in communities.
Her plan to lower the cost of living calls for reducing costs of government regulations on housing construction and reducing the time for projects to be approved. She also opposes SANDAG’s proposed vehicle mileage tax that would cost San Diegans an extra 4.5 cents for each mile driven.
She would create homeless outreach teams staffed with social workers, mental healthcare workers, and law enforcement to help homeless people get access to services and clean up the streets. Reichert is a former Celebrate Recovery leader through her church, helping people with drug and alcohol addictions.
Countywide, she notes on her website that violent crime is up 14% over the past year, but the Sheriff’s department is understaffed by 240 deputies. She wants to boost recruitment efforts to hire more deputies.
Other priorities of hers including making sure COVID relief funds go to those who were hurt most by lockdowns and business closures, eliminating discriminatory mandates, keeping county meetings open to the public, and prioritizing mental health. The latter is personal for Reichert, who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after suffering the death of her newborn daughter and her father within five weeks.
Raised in Tierrasanta by adoptive parents, after losing her father, a search for her biological mother inspired her to pursue a career as an investigator. As a private investigator, she has tracked down missing persons and uncovered Medicare fraud, according to her website. Her investigation of the hospital where her newborn daughter died also led to a state investigation and the hospital held legally responsible for the death.
She earned her Master’s degree in Divinity and served as a minister at Eastlake Church. She and her husband, Christian Reichert, live in La Mesa with their two sons, Alex and Chris.
Her endorsements include prominent Republicans such as Congressman Darrell Issa, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, and State Senator Brian Jones as well as the San Diego County Republican and Libertarian parties and California Parents United.
Janessa Goldbeck says, “For me, it’s always about the mission.”
A decorated Marine Corps veteran, she served as a uniformed victim advocate in the Marines, standing up for victims of sexual assault and fought against a ban on women holding top jobs in the military.
Before joining the Marines as a combat engineer officer, she worked as a human rights advocate to protect civilians in conflict zones in Sudan and Myamar. She has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a master of arts degree from the University of San Francisco.
She serves as CEO of Vet Voice Foundation, a national nonprofit that gives military families a bigger say on issues such as lowering costs for families, workers’ rights, the climate crisis, inequality, and assuring safe, healthy communities.
Locally, she’s fought for affordable and middle-income housing, union jobs, equal pay for women particularly minority women, resources to prevent veterans’ suicides, LGTBQ services, “common sense” gun safety measures, and services for homeless youths.
According to her website, she played a leading role in securing one of the largest federal investments in recreation infrastructure, public lands access, land and water conservation and worked with the Biden administration to designate three new national monuments. She calls herself an “avid explorer and advocate for the outdoors” as well as an “experienced policy advocate.”
She serves on the boards of the UCSD Chancellor’s Community Advisory Group, MANA de San Diego and the San Diego LGBT Community Center, the San Diego Mayor’s LGBT task force, and the County’s Behavioral Health Advisory Board.
Raised in San Diego County, she cut short her military career to care for her mother with Alzheimer’s, an experience that she says has made her a strong advocate for caregivers. She and her wife, Carol, live in San Diego.
Her endorsements include Democratic Congressmen Mike Levine, Juan Vargas and Scott Peters, former Congresswoman Susan Davis, California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and more.
Learn more about her candidacy at her website, https://www.janessagoldbeck.com.