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San Diego’s City Council has a new leader.
Georgette Gómez won the Council presidency by a unanimous and anticlimactic vote of her colleagues. She will now lead the Council’s newly minted Democratic supermajority, and any progressive agenda it decides to pursue over the next two years. She’ll also maintain her role as chair of the Metropolitan Transit System as it pursues a 2020 ballot measure, making her among the most powerful political figures in the region in the coming years.
Gómez said her priorities would be equity, inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.
“I’m ready for it,” she said.
In the behind-the-scenes race for Council president in recent weeks, Councilman Chris Ward and Councilwoman Barbara Bry — the other two veteran Council Democrats — had been considered contenders. But telegraphing the outcome, Bry made the motion to nominate Gómez and Ward quickly seconded.
Council Democrats praised Gómez’s commitment to an agenda focused on equity and representation that will tackle affordable housing, homelessness and the city’s transportation woes.
“It’s an important role, and we have big tasks ahead of us,” Ward said after hearing a series of comments from Gómez’s supporters. “It’s incumbent on us as a Council to decide who best reflects our citizens’ priorities, and we heard loud and clear from the audience who that is.”
The Republicans said they were happy to vote for her because she’s always been honest with them about where she stood, even when they disagreed.
“Unlike the person who held that seat earlier, Georgette Gómez has been upfront and honest with me since the day she got here,” said Councilman Scott Sherman, taking a veiled shot at outgoing Council President Myrtle Cole.
Councilman Mark Kersey, another Republican, said he’s encouraged that Gómez will be both council president and MTS chair during a pivotal period for San Diego’s transportation system.
“Having you in a position as a regional leader — we could use more regional leaders,” he said.
We might have got a preview of how one of those committee assignments Monday, after a hot mic picked up Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who ran the meeting up until Gómez’s selection as council president, chatting with Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin while the Council was rearranging itself so Gómez could take over.
Tevlin joked that her and Bry wouldn’t be sitting next to each other anymore, but Bry mentioned that she expected to be back sitting with her soon, on the city’s budget committee. That committee, as the name suggests, plays a key role shaping the city’s annual spending decisions. That will especially be the case now that the Council has a veto-proof majority that could overrule Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s budget suggestions, if it chooses.
One thing to watch for is whether Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, fresh off her defeat of Cole with a grassroots campaign driven in part by community dissatisfaction over racial profiling and police misconduct, gets a spot — or gets to chair — the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee, which has policy say over city police.
During her swearing in speech Monday, Montgomery reiterated her campaign’s focus on police practices with an explicit promise that would count as a major change for the city.
“There is no relationship without accountability and trust,” she said. “Based on that I will advocate for District 4 representation on the Community Review Board on Police Practices, and I will advocate for a revised Community Review Board on Police Practices with subpoena power to independently investigate police misconduct.”
To date, the Community Review Board on Police Practices has not exercised significant oversight of the San Diego Police Department. In part that’s because the board does not investigate allegations of misconduct on its own. It must rely on whatever is provided to it by SDPD’s internal affairs. The City Council has previously scuttled outside attempts to reform the board.
The Central Committee of the local Republican Party re-elected Tony Krvaric as chairman Monday. He had announced he was stepping down from the role months ago but then said supporters and stakeholders persuaded him to stay. This weekend, in the Politics Report, we also broke the news that the party was considering paying him an executive’s salary. He has been a volunteer for 12 years. The Central Committee did not approve that compensation package Monday.
Many Tijuanenses concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in their city as thousands of Central American migrants arrive have pointed to Haitians as an immigrant community they think behaves respectably.
One Haitian migrant who took a similar route to Tijuana as the migrants arriving now is pushing back against that narrative: Don’t pit migrants against one another, he warns.
In the latest Border Report, Maya Srikrishnan talked with 25-year-old Ustin Pascal Dubuisson, a Haitian migrant who arrived in Tijuana in 2016 and who recently wrote a book about the journey.
“We waited to see if the city would give us a chance to show them that we’re not here to do bad things,” Dubuisson said. “The Central Americans want this too.”
Also in the Border Report: Asylum-seekers in Tijuana face the longest wait times, according to a new report, and Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders weighs in on what Mexico’s new president means for the border economy.
Monday’s Morning Report misstated the day of an accident involving biking and pedestrian advocate Roberta Walker. The accident was Saturday.
The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts.