Campbell ousted from San Diego City Council chairman, replaced by Elo-Rivera


San Diego City Council on Monday ousted Jen Campbell as board chair, replacing her with board member Sean Elo-Rivera.

Campbell was elected to the post by her peers in 2020. Board chair votes in odd years are traditionally routine re-elections of the incumbent, but five board members – Joe LaCava, Monica Montgomery Steppe, Chris Cate, Vivian Moreno and Elo -Rivera himself – voted against giving it a second year.

All of those board members except Cate voted against Campbell’s selection as chairman last year in one of the most controversial votes in recent memory. Cate did not explain why he no longer wanted Campbell in this position. However, he congratulated Elo-Rivera on Twitter, saying, “I appreciate the relationship we have built and look forward to working with you in 2022.”

In San Diego’s strong mayor form of government, the chairman is one of the city’s most powerful elected officials. They are responsible for establishing the agendas of the board, distributing the tasks of the committees and leading the meetings of the board.

Elo-Rivera, who represents District 9, said in brief remarks during council deliberations that he was ready for the role and wanted the city council to live up to its potential.

“It means being a strong board, it means being a responsible board, a transparent board and a collaborative board that stands for responsible governance, it’s as good as the people we aim to serve,” said Elo-Rivera.

The selection of the board chair began with board member Stephen Whitburn appointing Campbell for a second year, saying she had led the board through tough times during the pandemic and forged compromises on important issues. Whitburn’s move failed 5-4.

The next motion to select Elo-Rivera as chairman of the board was carried by 8-1, with Campbell voting the only “no”.

Campbell, who represents District 2, faced opposition from all sides of the political spectrum and was the target of an unsuccessful recall campaign earlier this year. Its district includes western Clairemont, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Midway, Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

Opponents criticized her for her positions on several issues, including energy policy, policing, racial equity and short-term house rentals.

Campbell was also recently criticized for involving a staff member in the city’s redistribution process. A watch group last week asked the San Diego city attorney‘s office to investigate whether Campbell or her staff had unethically sought to protect her from being drawn to a new district. , which would have forced her to move in order to be re-elected next year.

Campbell said in a statement to KPBS: “At no point did I ask my staff to influence the Redistribution Commission in any way.”

Campbell’s rise to chairman of the board last year came amid a wave of community support for choosing Montgomery Steppe for the job. Supporters of Montgomery Steppe argued that she was more progressive and skilled than Campbell and that as a black woman she was better placed to lead on issues of racial equity.

Elo-Rivera is entering his second year in office. Its district includes City Heights, Kensington, Talmadge, College Area, and parts of southeastern San Diego. He is seen as a progressive ready to tackle controversial issues, such as ending the city’s century-old practice of offering free trash pickup to single-family homes, but not apartments or businesses.


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