Nathan Fletcher
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher speaks at a press conference on gun control. Photo by Salvatore Giametta

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher Monday officially announced his candidacy for the state Senate District 39 seat, vowing to fight for working families.

“From leading one of the most effective COVID responses in the nation to leading Marines in combat, I’ve never shied away from taking on the toughest fights,” Fletcher said in a statement. “I’m running for state Senate to deliver higher wages, a lower cost of living, and a fundamentally fair shot at a better life that every San Diego County family deserves.”

In November, he confirmed that he was considering a run for the seat because Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins is termed out.

Fletcher was the first Democrat to serve as chair of the Board of Supervisors in decades, taking the helm from Republican Greg Cox during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since been succeeded by Supervisor Nora Vargas, also a Democrat.

He touts his success with the pandemic response — citing a vaccination rate over 90% — and instituting the region’s Mobile Crisis Response Teams, intended to better meet the needs of homeless San Diegans experiencing mental health crises.

Fletcher previously served from 2008 to 2012 in the state Assembly, where he authored Chelsea’s Law, public safety legislation to protect children from sexually violent crimes.

“As San Diego County families grapple with the realities of housing, health care, and commuting costs on their pocketbooks, they’re going to seek out leaders who have demonstrated they can deliver,” said Evan McLaughlin, consultant for Fletcher’s 2024 campaign. “Nathan Fletcher has been an incredibly successful leader — especially as he’s steered San Diego County through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fletcher’s leadership has also generated debate, particularly amongst San Diegans opposed to vaccines, virtual meetings and “lockdowns.” During his tenure, board meetings would sometimes devolve into screaming by public speakers, and in January 2022, a “suspicious” fire damaged the home Fletcher was sharing with his wife, former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

Despite these incidents, Fletcher has amassed a war chest of more than $1 million since he opened a campaign committee several months ago, and he has endorsements from San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, former state Sen. Christine Kehoe, Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vazquez and San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera.

Senate District 39 consists of nearly half of registered voters in San Diego, including the Point Loma peninsula, downtown, mid-city, Southeast, City Heights, and parts of Clairemont; the entirety of the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, El Cajon, and Coronado; and unincorporated parts of San Diego County.

City News Service contributed to this article