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Montgomery Steppe takes early lead in District 4 Supervisor special election

Monica Montgomery-Steppe
Posted at 6:28 AM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 12:55:20-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe has taken an early lead in the special election to fill the vacant seat in San Diego County's Fourth Supervisorial District, but did not immediately appear to have enough support to avoid a runoff.

Montgomery Steppe, a Democrat, attorney and San Diego City Council president pro tem, held 40.68% of the vote Tuesday night. She was heavily backed by labor organizations in the campaign for the officially nonpartisan position.

"While we wait for every vote to be counted and every voice to be heard, we are feeling optimistic about San Diego County's future," she said Wednesday. "Together, we can make history and invest in tackling homelessness, promote a holistic public safety ecosystem, and invest in our people. Together, we can bring our shared vision for people-centered leadership to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors."

Republican Amy Reichert, founder of Reopen San Diego, was in second place with 28.87% of the vote -- trailing Montgomery Steppe by around 9,000 votes.

If no candidate receives a majority vote in this special election, the top two vote getters will square off in a special general election on Nov. 7 to fill the seat vacated by former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who stepped down following what he describes as an "inappropriate relationship" with a subordinate. The woman has alleged sexual assault and harassment, but Fletcher has denied those claims.

"We are waiting for all the votes to be tallied, but I feel very good about our position and confident I will be on the ballot for the November 7 runoff," Reichert posted Tuesday night on X, formerly called Twitter.

The successful candidate will fill the seat for the remainder of the current term, which ends in January 2027. There are an estimated 20,000 ballots left to be counted.

Democrat Janessa Goldbeck, a Marine veteran and nonprofit organizer, followed Reichert with 25.38% of the vote, while Republican, Marine veteran and U.S. Census Bureau employee Paul McQuigg had slightly more than 5%.

Voter turnout was 20%, according to the San Diego County Registrar's Office, with 78,806 ballots cast out of the district's 394,373 registered voters.

Mail ballots were still coming in. Those sent right before or on Aug. 15 have seven days to arrive if postmarked by Election Day. Additionally, there are provisional ballots. People who missed the July 31 registration deadline could have conditionally registered and voted provisionally in person up to and on Election Day.

The next release of results is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. The results must be certified by Sept. 14.

If the results hold, it presents an interesting scenario for the November election. While both Montgomery Steppe and Goldbeck are Democrats, they represent different ends of the party, with the former considered more progressive and the latter more moderate.

Voters who might otherwise go for a moderate Democrat could teeter into the Republican camp to turn the tide for Reichert, or Dem voters -- who represented more than 66% of the vote Tuesday night -- could toe the party line for a convincing victory. Democrat-registered voters outnumber Republicans nearly three to one in the district.

Currently on the County Board of Supervisors, Democrats Nora Vargas and Terra Lawson-Remer and Republicans Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond often deadlock on politicized issues. The new supervisor could tip the board either more progressive or more conservative, depending on the results.

Fletcher, who sought treatment out of state for alcohol abuse and post- traumatic stress disorder, resigned from his seat on the board effective May 15.

He announced his resignation March 29 after admitting to what he called affair with former Metropolitan Transit System employee Grecia Figueroa, who is suing him.

District 4 is the smallest geographically of the county's five districts, consisting of central San Diego, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, as far north as Clairemont Mesa and portions of Kearny Mesa, as far south as Paradise Valley, as far east as south El Cajon and west as far as Mission Hills.

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