SAN DIEGO — The runoff in the special election for the District 4 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is inching closer and early voting is already underway.
Two candidates will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 special election to fill the spot that was vacated by former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher after he was accused of sexual misconduct in his role as chairman of the MTS board in a lawsuit.
In August, District 4 voters took to the ballot box to select between four candidates in a primary election.
However, none received more than the 50% majority that was needed to win outright, prompting the special election to move to a runoff between the top two vote-getters: San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe and founder of “Reopen San Diego” Amy Reichert.
Montgomery Steppe, a Democrat, earned about 41.42% of the vote in the Aug. 17 primary. Meanwhile, Reichert, a Republican, garnered about 28.93% of the vote.
Whoever wins in the Nov. 7 runoff will serve out the remainder of Fletcher’s term, which runs into January 2027.
Ballots began arriving to registered voters in District 4 in the mail on Sunday, Oct. 8. Early voting began that week at the Registrar of Voters Office in Kearny Mesa, as well as at drop boxes throughout the county.
While some may already be bubbling in their ballots, for those District 4 voters that have not yet decided who they want to cast their vote for, below is an introduction to the two County Supervisor hopefuls.
Here are the candidates, listed in alphabetical order:
Monica Montgomery Steppe, 44, is the current City Councilmember for the city of San Diego’s fourth district. The Democrat was the second person to announce their candidacy for District 4 supervisorial seat, launching her campaign in April.
Should she be elected, Montgomery Steppe would be the first Black woman to serve as supervisor in the district.
Born and raised in San Diego, Montgomery Steppe says she has lived in District 4 for most of her life. She currently resides in Skyline-Hills.
An attorney by trade, she served as a public service lawyer before entering elected office, serving as an advocate for families during the Great Recession foreclosure crisis and the American Civil Liberties Union. She also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor on criminal justice reform, workforce development, small business development and equal opportunity contracting for the City of San Diego.
Montgomery Steppe assumed office in the City Council in 2018, where she serves as President pro Tem and chair of the Budget & Government Efficiency Committee. She also sits on the San Diego City-County Reinvestment Task Force, the MTS board, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the San Diego Housing Authority.
On the issues:
In her role with the City Council, Montgomery Steppe has focused on issues relating to public safety, law enforcement oversight, homelessness and access to mental health services.
In an interview with FOX 5 on Aug. 10, Montgomery Steppe said she would use that experience in public service with a model of governance that centers the community to move into a role that can address priorities like addressing homelessness, creating economic opportunity, expanding behavioral health services and ensuring public safety.
Some of the ways that she discussed addressing these priorities include:
- Increasing access to “wrap-around services” — including housing connection, social services, job training and behavioral health support among other things — using the public health-related resources available at a county level.
- Building more affordable housing through “smart growth” of neighborhoods that can build them out in ways that help people “thrive and afford to live.”
- Public Safety
- Investing in the public safety ecosystem to ensure first responders and neighborhoods have the resources they need to prevent crime, while establishing greater law enforcement oversight and investing in community-based alternatives to policing and incarceration.
- Increase economic opportunity
- Promote healthy communities by investing in them to reduce social determinants like poverty, discrimination and lack of access to healthy food; while creating fair economic opportunities for local business growth.
During a public forum on Monday, Montgomery Steppe reiterated these points and also addressed the county’s response to the ongoing crisis at the border, saying that — while the federal government needs to step in — the county has a responsibility to act.
She specifically expressed support for the county’s recent decision to spend $3 million to help nonprofits who are providing services to migrants and asylum seekers in the region.
“It’s a public health agency, that’s what the county does,” she said. “We have to ensure the public health of all the people here in our region.”
According to her campaign website, Montgomery Steppe has garnered many key endorsements including: the San Diego County Democratic Party, the Union-Tribune Editorial Board, the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs, San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Board of Supervisors Chair Nora Vargas.
Former candidate for the District 4 seat Janessa Goldbeck, who finished third in the Aug. 17 primary, has also thrown her support behind the city councilmember in her bid for the county seat.
Montgomery Steppe appeared on FOX 5 News on Nov. 3.
Amy Reichert, 55, is a licensed public investigator and founder of the nonprofit, Reopen San Diego. Reichert was the third candidate to announce a bid for the District 4 seat in the special election for Fletcher’s seat, launching her campaign in May.
Should she be elected, Reichert would be the first woman to serve as supervisor in the district.
Adopted as an infant, Reichert grew up in San Diego. She currently resides in La Mesa. Graduating from San Diego State University, Reichert owns a business, Amy Reichert Investigations, helping clients locate missing persons and uncover fraud, among other things.
She got involved in local governance during the pandemic, founding her non-profit to advocate in opposition to COVID-19 closures and mask and vaccine mandates. She also used to work with those in addiction recovery with the Christian 12-step program, Celebrate Recovery.
Reichert has not held political office. However, she challenged Fletcher for the District 4 supervisorial seat in his 2022 re-election bid. She ultimately lost the election, garnering 35.4% of the vote in the general.
On the issues:
A self-described experienced businesswoman, Reichert said in an interview with FOX 5 on Aug. 7 that she would bring a “strong business mindset” to the Board of Supervisors to help address the most pressing quality of life issues facing the county.
She described feeling disheartened seeing how issues like cost of living, the homelessness crisis and public safety have contributed to San Diegans leaving the county over the last few years. Reichert added that she hopes to help make the region an “affordable place and a safe place that people can enjoy with loved ones.”
Some of the ways she plans to address these issues include:
- Cost of Living
- Reducing governmental costs and project approval time relating to housing construction of single-family homes.
- Leading with a “treatment-first” method to compel those unhoused individuals struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues off the street.
- Expanding Homeless Outreach with more teams of social workers, mental health care personnel and law enforcement, while also increasing the number of psychiatric beds and Crisis Stabilization Units.
- Public Safety
- Against budget cuts to law enforcement and will focus on recruiting more deputies to address understaffing at the Sheriff’s Department.
During a public forum on Monday, Reichert continued to press these points as she turned to address the ongoing crisis at the border, arguing that it the federal government should be the entity diverting funds towards supporting migrants — not the county.
She specifically clashed with Montgomery Steppe on the county’s recent decision to spend $3 million to help nonprofits who are providing services to migrants and asylum seekers in the region.
“Federal government, this is your job. This is your jurisdiction,” Reichert said. “These monies were meant for struggling small businesses, homeless…”
According to her campaign website, endorsements Reichert has received include: the San Diego County Republican Party, the California Republican Party, County Supervisor Joel Anderson, County Supervisor Jim Desmond, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, U.S. Rep. Kevin Kiley, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey and the East County Chamber of Commerce.
Reichert appeared on FOX 5 News on Nov. 2.