San Diego Councilwoman Myrtle Cole. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Councilwoman Myrtle Cole in the council chambers. Photo by Chris Stone

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole on Monday became the first African America woman to be elected president of the San Diego City Council.

Cole, who represents neighborhoods in Southeast San Diego, was elected on a 6-3 vote. She succeeds Sherri Lightner, whose term ended with Monday’s inauguration of a new council.

“What I plan to do is work with every single individual on this dais…to move their district forward and to move this city forward — that’s all I want to do,” said Cole.

Many of the 30 or so public speakers, including members of organized labor and environmental groups, backed Councilman David Alvarez. He and new council members Georgette Gomez and Chris Ward cast the dissenting votes.

“While I am disappointed by the outcome, I remain strongly committed to advancing initiatives that improve the lives of San Diegans,” Davis said in a statement. “The council must lead in several critical areas, such as increasing housing affordability, impactful solutions to homelessness, and achieving the goals set out in the Climate Action Plan.”

Cole will have considerable power as council president. She will shape the debate over civic issues, set the panel’s agenda, run the council meetings, determine committee assignments and appear often with the mayor in a ceremonial role.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.