SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A campaign to recall San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell became official Wednesday when a notice of intent to recall her was published in a legal newspaper.
Once the notice is published, recall leaders must wait 21 days to begin collecting signatures. Campbell has that time to publish a rebuttal the recall campaign must pay to publish.
Recall backers have until June 3 to collect 14,421 signatures from registered voters in District 2, 15% of its 96,140 registered voters. The district consists of Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Mission Beach and part of Clairemont.
Campbell described the campaign as a waste of time and money.
“At a time when the city is facing a budget deficit, a small group of individuals are trying to force San Diego residents to spend a million dollars for a recall that might be held a few months before a regular election in 2022,” she said. “It is selfish and irresponsible.”
If the recall supporters collect enough verified signatures, the City Council would be required to schedule a special election within six months on whether Campbell should be recalled and if so, who should replace her.
Supporters of the recall effort said they have lost faith in Campbell, a Democrat. The San Diego City Council, like all local government bodies in California, is officially nonpartisan.
“Councilmember Campbell has betrayed the voters and is unfit for office. Having no other recourse, we the residents of District 2, together with concerned residents throughout the city, have come together to take this action,” the notice reads.
The recall notice appeared in Wednesday’s issue of the San Diego Daily Transcript, a legal newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Campbell has served on the City Council since ousting Republican Lorie Zapf in 2018. She was elected City Council president over Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe by a 5-4 vote in December.
Many of the complaints against Campbell are a result of what critics describe as a too-lenient attitude toward vacation rentals and her support for a ballot measure allowing developers to exceed a long-standing 30-feet height limit in the Midway neighborhood.
“People in her district don’t like the new height levels that are going in and don’t like the fact that she hasn’t cracked down on short-term rentals,” said FOX 5 analyst Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College.
Campbell’s supporters, meanwhile, describe her as a progressive leader not afraid to take on controversial issues.
Luna said it’s the first attempt of a recall on a San Diego Councilmember since the early 1990s. He said supporters of the recall are focusing on those two issues.
“The proposition to raise the height limit passed by a wide margin city-wide,” Luna said. “The problem for Councilmember Campbell is that it was less popular in her district than it was city-wide.”
Luna said he doesn’t think the recall is likely to succeed, but if it does, a special election will be held in the aftermath, with voters writing in their choice for a candidate to replace Campbell.
“One of the veto problems we have in this democracy is that with a small amount of signatures, 15%, you can trigger a re-election. And if people get used to that, it won’t be hard to get to that vote,” Luna said. “And bit by bit, all the safeguards we put on democracy are being abused.”
Leaders of the campaign include five prominent civic leaders from each neighborhood in Campbell’s district: Kevin Hastings, vice chair of the Ocean Beach Planning Board; Cathie Umemoto, a director on the Pacific Beach Town Council Board of Directors; Mandy Havlik, board member and secretary of the Peninsula Community Planning Board; Erin Cullen, board member of the Clairemont Community Planning Group; and Gary Wonacott, former president of Mission Beach Town Council.