Q&A: San Diego District 4 candidate Monica Montgomery Steppe
A special election to determine control of the County Board of Supervisors is underway, so we've put together a series of Q&As to help you meet the four candidates vying for the seat. Say hello to San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe.
The candidate: Montgomery Steppe represents southeastern San Diego. In 2018, she became the first person to defeat a Council incumbent since 1992, with a grassroots campaign promising criminal justice reform and community investment. She has been endorsed by the local Democratic Party, major labor groups and California Secretary of State Shirley Weber.
You were re-elected last year — why move on to the county now?
- "Throughout my career I've tried my best to help our most vulnerable communities, and I think that is the core of what the county of San Diego does. When I got that feeling in my stomach, that was the final push, like, 'OK, you gotta do this.'"
What is the board of supervisors' role in addressing jail deaths?
- "The authority the County Board of Supervisors has really comes through the budget. But we have seen that having the platform helps. [Jail deaths] are not talked about right now as much as I think [they] should be, and we understand the reason for that. Accountability is like a bad word oftentimes when it comes to some of the law enforcement unions ... I will continue to be vocal about these issues."
Have you been frustrated by the time it's taken to implement Measure B, which created a strengthened police oversight commission?
- "This is what changing a system looks like. This is what community governance looks like. Sometimes we have good community partners who are willing to help us move things along, sometimes we don't .... I am not thinking about my personal instant gratification and what the media's going to say about me. I'm thinking about 10 and 15 years from now, how can we stand up this board and give it a foundation upon which it can build?"
What do you make of the tension at San Diego Association of Governments, over its long-term transportation plan?
- "This is a big town; it's the eighth largest city in the nation, but it really still in some ways has a small time mentality. I've had to talk there about people using racist tropes, even if they don't realize they're doing it, when it comes to housing, transit, the character of neighborhoods. I've had to give people history lessons on where that came from."
Do you support a proposed sales tax to fund the transit projects in the plan?
- "I have not read through the entire policy, but I'm definitely open and understand that for us to fulfill those goals this may be something that we have to do .... I do think there is something to be said about California, the cost of living, evaluating the impact that these decisions are having on folks."
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