Democrat Monica Montgomery, who was elected to the San Diego City Council, speaks to her supporters at the Hotel Republic in downtown San Diego on Nov. 6, 2018. (Megan Wood/inewsource)
Democrat Monica Montgomery, who was elected to the San Diego City Council, speaks to her supporters at the Hotel Republic in downtown San Diego on Nov. 6, 2018. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

For the first time since 1991, San Diego voters on Tuesday ousted incumbent council members seeking re-election.

Council President Myrtle Cole, who was elected to her southeastern San Diego seat in a special election in 2013, lost by 12 points to her former staffer, Monica Montgomery.

Why this matters

inewsource’s precinct maps help voters see how candidates and ballot measures did in each neighborhood.

Because both are Democrats, that didn’t change the balance of power on the nine-member City Council, but Democrat Jennifer Campbell’s defeat of Republican incumbent Lorie Zapf by 12 points will.

Democrats will now have a 6-3 supermajority on the City Council, which means they would be able to override vetoes by Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer if they vote together. The three council Republicans also will not have enough votes on their own to get an item on a council agenda.

In the two other council races Tuesday, Republican Chris Cate was re-elected by a 12-point margin over Democrat Tommy Hough. In the race to replace termed-out Democratic Councilman David Alvarez, his staffer Vivian Moreno beat San Ysidro school board member Antonio Martinez by 4 points, but that could change as late mail-in and provisional ballots are counted. Moreno and Martinez are both Democrats.

Democrat Jennifer Campbell, who won a seat on the San Diego City Council, is shown at Golden Hall on election night in downtown San Diego. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

Early signs of trouble for Cole

Cole has struggled since the primary when she came in second to Montgomery, who finished first by six votes.

Montgomery quit as Cole’s policy adviser two years ago after the councilwoman made controversial comments at a City Council meeting about racial profiling of blacks. Both women are African-Americans.

“There’s more black-on-black shootings in our nation than ever before,” said Cole, a former police officer. “Blacks are shooting blacks. So who do (the police) stop? They’re not going to stop a white male. They’re not going to stop a Hispanic male or Asian. They’re going to stop an African-American. That’s who they’re going to stop, because those are the ones (who are) shooting.”

Cole’s 4th District, which includes Oak Park, Encanto and Paradise Hills, has the largest percentage of African-Americans in the city, according to the census.

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Even though some considered her an underdog heading into Tuesday’s election, she had strong backing from the county Democratic Party and labor unions, and had a significant money advantage over Montgomery. As of Sept. 22, Cole had raised more than $161,000, about twice as much as Montgomery.

On Tuesday night, Montgomery told Voice of San Diego that a grassroots effort led to her victory.

“A well-organized, grassroots campaign can beat the money,” Montgomery said. “You can put a mailer out every single day. In a district like District 4, if you don’t have a relationship with the people, if you don’t show up consistently through your term, the people have the power to vote you out.”

Maps created by inewsource with election results by precincts showed Montgomery did particularly well in the central and northern parts of the district, including Encanto, Skyline and Oak Park.

Cole did well primarily in the southern and northern parts of the district, including in Bay Terraces and Redwood Village.

Democrats worked to oust Zapf

Unlike Cole, Councilwoman Zapf was the top vote-getter in her District 2 primary in June, with 43 percent of the vote. But that was less than the 54 percent the four Democrats who challenged her received.

Campbell linked her victory Tuesday to the congressional races the Democrats won nationally as they took over control of the House.

“Everything came together,” said Campbell, according to Voice of San Diego. “The blue wave came, the district became more Democratic and voters decided they were tired of the mudslinging.”

Like Montgomery, she faced an incumbent who was winning the money race. As of Sept. 22, Zapf had raised about $500,000, about twice as much as Campbell.

During the primary, Democrats were only able to win a few precincts around Ocean Beach and near the airport. But the precinct maps created by inewsource show Campbell did well throughout the central and northern parts of the district, including in the Midway District, Pacific Beach and Bay Ho.

Zapf did well in the southern parts of the district, including Point Loma and Liberty Station.

Democrat Vivian Moreno, who was elected to the San Diego City Council, walks with Councilwoman Georgette Gómez on Nov. 6, 2018, at Golden Hall. (Megan Wood/inewsource)
San Diego Councilman Chris Cate, who won re-election, talks to supporters at the U.S. Grant Hotel on Nov. 6, 2018. (Lori Lum/Spark Photography)

To see how the City Council candidates did, including Moreno and Cate, you can search the inewsource precinct maps.

Because of technical problems, the Registrar of Voters Office was unable on Wednesday to provide precinct-level voting data after 100 percent of precincts were reporting. Those problems were resolved Thursday, allowing inewsource to update its voting results maps.

Click here to see precinct results for the San Diego City Council races in the Nov. 6, 2018, election.

UPDATED at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018: The San Diego City Council election maps for this story now show the results with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.

Leonardo Castañeda was a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.