Political Notes: Queer San Diego supervisor candidate Goldbeck concedes primary race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Friday August 18, 2023
Share this Post:
San Diego County supervisor candidate Janessa Goldbeck came up short in the primary for the District 4 seat. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
San Diego County supervisor candidate Janessa Goldbeck came up short in the primary for the District 4 seat. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

Queer military veteran Janessa Goldbeck has failed to survive the primary for a vacant seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. She conceded August 17 and congratulated the presumed Democratic winner of the contest who is moving on to a November runoff race.

San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, 44, the lone African American on the governing body, placed first in the special election held August 15 for the county board's District 4 seat. She had endorsements from the San Diego County Democratic Party, various labor unions, and a host of elected officials, such as Congressmembers Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Sara Jacobs (D-San Diego).

Steppe took first place in the primary with 41% of the vote, according to the unofficial returns. Since she fell below the 50% mark, Steppe will stand for election on the November ballot to represent the district that includes parts of central and southeast San Diego, the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove, and the unincorporated area of Spring Valley.

She is set to become the first female supervisor elected to represent the district, and the first Black woman to do so. Because of its heavy Democratic makeup, Steppe is the odds-on favorite to defeat her Republican challenger, La Mesa resident Amy Reichert, a licensed public investigator.

Reichert, 55, who founded the nonprofit Reopen San Diego, took second in the August 15 election with nearly 29% of the vote, according to the latest tally posted Thursday afternoon. The county registrar reported it had roughly 6,000 ballots left to count.

But it isn't enough for Goldbeck, with close to 25% of the vote, to overtake Reichert, her campaign acknowledged after the new vote count was announced. She called Steppe to congratulate her first-place showing and offered her support of Steppe in the runoff.

"It's clear that San Diegans want strong Democratic leadership on the County Board of Supervisors, and Councilmember Montgomery Steppe will deliver that," stated Goldbeck.

Steppe thanked her backers and campaign volunteers Thursday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. She noted, "this primary was a whirlwind, but our Community showed up at every turn. On to making history in November!"

Goldbeck, 37, who earned a master's degree in public leadership from the University of San Francisco two years ago, had hoped to double LGBTQ representation on the county board. A board member with Equality California, Goldbeck had picked up the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization's endorsement of her supervisor bid in May.

The former Marine Corps member had also failed to make it out of the 2020 primary for an open congressional seat in San Diego County. She currently serves as CEO of the nonprofit Vet Voice Foundation.

Earlier this year, Goldbeck had announced she would seek the supervisorial seat when it was expected to be open in 2024. The former District 4 supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, was expected to seek next year the state's 39th Senate District seat, which is being vacated in 2024 by termed out lesbian Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

But it was then revealed that Fletcher was facing legal action for alleged sexual discrimination against several women, and he ended his legislative bid. He also resigned from his seat on the county board in May to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse, which prompted the special election to serve out the remainder of his term through 2026.

Next November, the San Diego board's lone LGBTQ member, District 3 Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, will be up for reelection. A Democrat who is nonbinary and pansexual, she is facing a challenge for her seat from Republican former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.

In her own post on X Thursday afternoon, Lawson-Remer also congratulated her likely new colleague on the board Steppe for her "hard-fought and well-deserved victory" in the special primary election.

"I am so proud to support Monica for District 4 Supervisor. Monica is smart, tenacious, and principled. She has dedicated her life to fighting for equity, justice, and sustainability," she wrote.

Lawson-Remer is one of at least eight known LGBTQ county supervisors in California. Amy Shuklian, a lesbian, serves on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, while the remaining six are all gay men. Martin Huberty serves in Calavares County; Ken Carlson in Contra Costa County; Yxstian Gutierrez in Riverside County; and Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Joel Engardio all serve in San Francisco County.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko.

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.