The campaign to recall San Diego City Council member Jen Campbell is in full swing, but the reason for this last-minute recall remains surprising.
She didn’t break any laws. She didn’t commit any crimes. She is under the cloud of recall simply because she angered a group of voters who supported her during the 2018 election for City Council. That’s it.
I ran against Campbell as an ignored and disparaged old guy with a funny name. Many of the neighborhood interests that supported her then oppose her now.
It seems like the good lady from Clairemont had a change of heart when it comes to short-term vacation rentals and the need to raise height limits in the blighted Midway corridor.
But why? My hunch is a quid pro quo with Councilmember Chris Cate over these issues, but I’m not clairvoyant.
Whatever the reasons, we don’t recall politicians for doing their job. As Colin Powell explained after the ill-advised invasion of Iraq, “You break it, you own it.”
The voters made their decision and now they own it. As some said in 1973, “Don’t blame me, I voted for McGovern.”
Some things never change regarding the ignorance of voters. I warned everyone but nobody cared or listened. Campbell’s campaign took off like a rocket with the backing of a who’s who of San Diego Democrats. She was a shoo-in, a fait accompli before the first vote was cast.
Congressmen Scott Peters and Juan Vargas led the charge, followed by then-Councilman Chris Ward and then-Assemblyman Todd Gloria. They saw an opportunity to turn a Republican council seat into a Democratic one. Campbell must have instinctively known the 2018 election was one she couldn’t lose.
Well before votes were cast, her famous cousin David Axelrod, the chief political strategist for President Barack Obama, blew into La Jolla for a fundraiser. At that point, you could turn out the lights on my fledgling campaign.
To rail against special interests that helped elect Campbell is a hypocrisy. My campaign had no institutional support of any kind. Despite agreeing with the real estate industry virtually 90% of the time, being a landlord and working in the field, they gave me the cold shoulder. I held a fundraiser and not one person showed up. The more I spoke truth, the worse I did from a political standpoint.
This is precisely why I oppose the recall. Because ultimately it wasn’t the candidate, but the voters who made what some now consider a mistake.
In a year another election will take place and District 2 voters can replace her if they wish. My bet is that she will be reelected.
Daniel J. Smiechowski is a Bay Ho resident, prolific writer on education issues, and former candidate for San Diego Unified School District Board of Education and San Diego City Council.