Kent Lee takes over powerful San Diego council committee posts

David Garrick

San Diego Councilmember Kent Lee will play a much larger role in shaping key city legislation and spending decisions this year as leader of two powerful City Council committees.

Lee’s new committee posts — chair of both the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee and the Land Use and Housing Committee — are among several leadership changes announced Thursday by Council President Sean Elo-Rivera.

Councilmember Stephen Whitburn is taking over the Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from Lee, and Councilmember Vivian Moreno is taking over the Audit Committee from Whitburn.

Lee is taking over Land Use and Housing from Moreno, who has led that committee for several years. He is taking over Budget and Government Efficiency from Monica Montgomery Steppe, who was elected county supervisor in November.

Montgomery Steppe’s departure from the council leaves only eight members to lead nine committees, making it necessary for one council member to lead two.

But it’s somewhat surprising that Lee, who joined the council in late 2022 and has the least tenure on the panel, will lead two committees viewed by many as among the most impactful. Lee represents north central District 6, which includes Mira Mesa and University City.

Elo-Rivera hasn’t said whether he might switch up some leadership roles and committee assignments when District 4 voters elect a replacement for Montgomery Steppe, either in the March primary or a possible summer runoff.

The committee assignments were delayed nearly a month by a dispute over how the council determines them.

Elo-Rivera declined to make the appointments last month, when they are normally determined, after he was criticized for scheduling a special hearing to debate them.

Critics, led by Councilmember Jen Campbell, said that would unacceptably veer from the tradition of the council president meeting one-on-one with council members to discuss what assignments they would like.

Even though the council is short one member, Campbell and ally Councilmember Marni von Wilpert each have a total of only three committee assignments — a number they criticized last year as too few.

Elo-Rivera gave every other council member at least four assignments, and some got five.

Campbell will continue to lead the Community and Neighborhood Services Committee and serve as a member of the Environment Committee and the Economic Development and Governmental Relations Committee.

Von Wilpert will continue to lead the Public Safety Committee and serve as a member of the infrastructure and environment committees.

The all-Democratic council has a soft 4-4 split that has appeared to become sharper in recent months.

Elo-Rivera, Lee, Moreno and Councilmember Joe LaCava are on one side of the split, and Campbell, von Wilpert, Whitburn and Councilmember Raul Campillo are on the other.

LaCava will continue to lead the environment committee, and Campillo will continue to lead economic development.

Elo-Rivera will continue to lead the Rules Committee, which vets possible ballot measures and changes to the structure of city government.

David Garrick

2024-01-04 22:17:19 , Oceanside

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