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Politics

Monica Montgomery Steppe sworn in as San Diego County supervisor

Monica Montgomery Steppe (center) being sworn in at the San Diego County Administration Building in downtown San Diego on Dec. 5, 2023.
San Diego County
Monica Montgomery Steppe (center) being sworn in at the San Diego County Administration Building in downtown San Diego on Dec. 5, 2023.

Monica Montgomery Steppe Tuesday officially became a San Diego County supervisor for District 4, officially taking the seat left vacant since May after the departure of Nathan Fletcher, making her the first Black woman to serve on the Board of Supervisors.

Previously the councilwoman for city of San Diego's Fourth District, Montgomery Steppe prevailed over challenger Amy Reichert, 61.5%-38.4%, in a Nov. 7 special election.

The election was prompted by the May 15 resignation of Fletcher amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault, which he has denied.

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The supervisors voted in May to have an election, rather than appoint a successor to serve out the term, which ends in January 2027. Montgomery Steppe and Reichert finished 1-2 in the Aug. 15 primary.

Before Montgomery Steppe took the oath, the board voted 4-0 in favor of a resolution declaring the special election results.

As her husband Steven stood next to her, Montgomery Steppe took the oath, which was followed by loud applause. Addressing the gallery, Montgomery Steppe said Tuesday marked a momentous occasion, filled with promise, hope and progress. She added that she was "humbled by the honor of being chosen by voters" to fill this seat, but "this moment is not mine alone."

Montgomery Steppe thanked God, her husband and her parents, saying, "I get to stand in leadership and courage because of everything you instilled in me." She also praised other family members for their community service, saying she is "determined to lead by the example they set for me."

Montgomery Stepped said she stood on the shoulders of countless individuals who paved the way for change, including former Supervisor Williams, "for the influence and precedence he set for our region."

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The new supervisor said there is a long way ahead to change the status quo, the same one that "fought to keep the people's voices out of this seat."

Referencing law enforcement unions' opposition to her campaign or offensive opposition mailers, Montgomery Steppe said and her supporters didn't back down.

Montgomery Steppe said county leaders must prioritize the homeless crisis, and help this diverse group of people get off the streets.

"This work is not for performance or accolades," she said, adding she is "fully committed to working tirelessly" to uplift every county resident and build bridges where there are divides.

"Together, we will define a legacy of progress," Montgomery Steppe said. "Let's get back to work."

Her new colleagues offered words of praise.

Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas said Montgomery Steppe's tenure "marks a truly historic moment for San Diego County."

"I want everybody to take a moment and remember where you were when this happened," said Vargas, who noted her history of working with Montgomery Steppe on other issues.

"Today I'm thrilled she's working on a new chapter of collaboration," said Vargas, who added that Montgomery Steppe "embodies the principle that representation matters."

Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer said she was grateful for Montgomery Steppe's many years of service. "You've always been such a fierce and courageous fighter," Lawson-Remer said. "I'm so looking forward to all that you will do."

Supervisor Jim Desmond noted he had worked with Montgomery Steppe at the San Diego Association of Governments and on methadone clinic projects, while his colleague Joel Anderson said, "Welcome aboard."

Montgomery Steppe is the second Black person to serve on the Board of Supervisors, following noted leader Leon Williams, who was elected in 1982.

The 2024 primary election is March 5. Find in-depth reporting on each race to help you understand what's on your ballot.