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San Diego City Council president calls recall campaign against her reckless, divisive and expensive

San Diego City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, whose District 2 includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach
San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell, whose District 2 includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach, is facing a recall campaign.
(File / City of San Diego)

In her official response to the recall campaign, District 2’s Jennifer Campbell touts her medical experience as crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Diego Councilwoman Dr. Jennifer Campbell says the recall campaign against her is reckless, divisive, expensive and a distraction from city efforts to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

In her official response Feb. 17 to a notice of recall published Feb. 3, Campbell says her medical experience makes her crucial to San Diego’s pandemic efforts. She also says the recall is being driven by “elites” and “extremists.”

Community leaders seeking to oust Campbell file official notice; they must gather over 14,000 signatures by early June to make the ballot.

Campbell represents council District 2, which includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach.

Leaders of the recall campaign say Campbell, a Democrat who was narrowly elected council president in December, has been losing the trust of constituents by damaging quality of life, breaking promises and holding closed-door meetings with special interests.

The recall campaign also criticizes her for supporting a ballot measure that lifted height limits near the sports arena and for proposing vacation rental legislation that critics say is too lenient.

A short-term rental ordinance promoted by District 2 Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell is slated to be heard by the San Diego City Council during its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The recall campaign has until early June to collect more than 14,000 signatures from registered voters in District 2, which Campbell has represented on the council since ousting Republican incumbent Lorie Zapf in 2018.

If enough valid signatures are verified by the city clerk this summer, the City Council would be required to schedule a special recall election within six months.

That election would include two decisions for District 2 voters: whether Campbell should be recalled, and who should replace her if she is recalled. Democrat Loxie Gant of Pacific Beach, 35, is the only candidate to emerge so far.

Loxie Gant (center) of Pacific Beach is a candidate for the District 2 City Council seat if voters recall Jennifer Campbell.
Loxie Gant (center) of Pacific Beach is the first candidate to emerge for the District 2 City Council seat if voters approve the recall of council President Jennifer Campbell.
(File / Gary Warth)

Gant is a children’s rights advocate and organizer behind Hotel Vouchers 4 All, a nonprofit that is funding hotel rooms for homeless families.

Campbell’s official response, a legally required part of the city’s recall process, will be published this week in the San Diego Daily Transcript.

“This unnecessary recall election will cost taxpayers $2 million that should go to emergency COVID-19 response instead,” the response says. “Reject this reckless recall.”

The $2 million figure is what the San Diego County registrar of voters office estimates as the cost for a special election, which would likely take place in late November or early December.

Critics of the recall effort have emphasized that the vote would be roughly six months before Campbell must run for re-election in the June 2022 primary. They contend that makes the recall unnecessary when there will be a chance to vote against her so soon afterward.

Campbell’s response also attacks supporters of the recall campaign, calling them “elites and extremists who expect our elected officials to work toward their interests instead of building consensus to move all of San Diego forward.”

Leaders of the recall campaign called that a mischaracterization, contending they have broad-based support.

They noted that many civic groups in District 2 and the city’s Racial Justice Coalition have endorsed the recall, and they said hundreds have volunteered to collect signatures.

“We are not elites or extremists as Campbell suggests,” the campaign said in a statement. “We are simply citizens who have watched Campbell ignore and damage our communities.”

Campbell’s response also notes that critics of the recall include San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, state Sen. Toni Atkins and the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The response focuses on Campbell’s medical experience and how that is helping the city fight COVID-19.

It describes her as a “board-certified medical physician with the unique experience we need now to protect public health, defeat the virus and get life back to normal.” It does not mention that she is retired.

Campbell also is quoted in the response: “As a doctor and as your council president, my top priority will continue to be the well-being of all our families — and I won’t cave in to anyone who would compromise San Diego’s safe recovery to advance their own political agenda.”

Campbell, 75, lives in the Bay Ho section of Clairemont.


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