Why this matters
The winner will represent 700,000 residents living in two cities and several neighborhoods in San Diego County while helping oversee the county’s $8 billion budget.
To learn more about the opposing candidate in the special election for San Diego County Supervisor, read about Monica Montgomery Steppe’s background and policy positions here.
Small business owner Amy Reichert says she plans to take San Diego in a different direction.
Reichert is running a second time for a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in District 4, which opened up for special election after former supervisor Nathan Fletcher resigned amid sexual assault allegations. She challenged Fletcher for the same seat last year.
If she wins the election on Nov. 7, Reichert would take over the rest of Fletcher’s term, which ends in January 2027, and tip the five-member board to Republican control.
Amy Reichert’s background
Hometown: Tierrasanta neighborhood
Political Party: Republican
- Bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University
- Master’s of divinity, theology, ministry from Rockbridge Seminary
- Founder of nonprofit ReOpen San Diego, which challenged COVID-19 closures and vaccine mandates.
- Small business owner of private investigation company, Amy Reichert Investigations
- Director of Partnerships at cleaning product company, Truly Free, which is based in Michigan
The district is home to about 700,000 residents and includes the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove and several central and southeastern San Diego neighborhoods.
Reichert gained the endorsement of the San Diego County Republican Party and several libertarian groups. She trailed second behind her opponent, Democrat Monica Montgomery Steppe, in the primary election in August, but she outperformed two other candidates with 29% of the vote.
A San Diego County native, Reichert entered politics after her organization, ReOpen San Diego, sued the City of San Diego for placing restrictions on the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her priorities have focused on the county’s ongoing homelessness crisis, cost of living and public safety. inewsource asked each candidate questions about pressing issues in San Diego County and the causes they are focusing on in the leadup to the election. Reichert’s answers have been summarized below.
Reichert identified a variety of reasons why unhoused people, especially those experiencing drug addiction or severe mental illness, are on the streets. Shelters, in particular, are lacking, and public streets and emergency rooms are overwhelmed by homelessness, she said.
Reichert spoke about addressing the problem of unhoused people who are “patient dumped” at emergency rooms with nowhere to go. She suggested requiring at least one social worker in every emergency room throughout the county — 24 hours, seven days a week. When an unhoused person is discharged, a social worker then would give them resources for the nearest shelter or a motel voucher, she said.
She said funding for this program could come from a $100 million settlement reached with manufacturers of highly addictive opioid medications. Currently, the county plans to use that money to distribute the overdose reversal medication naloxone, establish public health campaigns on the dangers of opioids and invest in social support services to prevent addiction.
The county health department is also considering using the funds to provide glassware, safer smoking supplies and clean syringes to people struggling with addiction. The county is still waiting for the state to review the spending plan, but some local leaders have already expressed concerns that these harm reduction measures could enable addiction.
While studies show that providing clean drug-use tools can reduce the risk of health problems, this strategy doesn’t sit well with Reichert.
Reichert said the settlement money will pay for giving “someone who is struggling with addiction a crack pipe,” and she believes it is “far more compassionate” to spend the funds on treatment and recovery programs instead.
Also part of Reichert’s vision is a desire for a triage center on federal land run by local nonprofits that would offer shelter and resources to unhoused people.
For those struggling with severe mental illness, Reichert suggested increasing available psychiatric beds at hospitals that are often “teetering at capacity.” Right now, there are about 800 psychiatric beds in the county. They’re also hard to find, Reichert said, so she wants to create a database that tracks bed availability.
Unhoused people, regardless of mental illness, should also have a county phone number — much like 2-1-1 — to call if they want to find shelter, she said.
Reichert wants to see more county crisis response teams handle unhoused people with the help of law enforcement if they threaten to harm themselves or others. She’s also supportive of the county’s current mobile crisis response teams that assist without involvement from law enforcement.
“I will always prioritize helping people get the treatment that they need over just simply allowing people to sleep and die on our streets,” she said.
While Reichert’s campaign policies around homelessness largely focus on people with drug addiction or severe mental illness, many unhoused people don’t fall into those categories. Reichert did elaborate on the need for affordable housing to prevent people from many backgrounds from falling into homelessness.
San Diego County’s population has slightly declined since 2020, yet rents keep climbing. Reichert said this is due to “monkey business” surrounding rules on renting and buying properties.
Reichert blames short-term rentals for taking over long-term housing. If elected, she plans to impose stricter regulations that would make it harder for some people to convert homes into vacation rentals.
Reichert also opposes “infill” laws, such as Senate Bill 10, which allows local governments to authorize building of up to 10 units on a single parcel without an environmental review in “urban” and “transit-rich” areas. These units could be built at market rate, deterring opportunities for affordable housing units and contributing to a dwindling supply of single family homes, she said.
“My heart is to preserve the community character and history of our communities, and also be able to give people the opportunity to buy a single family home instead of just being a lifelong renter.”
Reichert said she believes that the county should raise the minimum wage, but not too much.
The small businesswoman said her first job at age 16 was at a Carl’s Jr. in Kearny Mesa that paid her $3.33 an hour.
As the times change and inflation goes up, the minimum wage should be adjusted, Reichert said, but if wage increases are too much, “that has real world consequences for raising the cost of labor.”
An “arbitrary minimum wage” may hurt small businesses because they would likely pass along that price to customers, she said. Reichert did not reference a specific dollar amount.
“I agree that minimum wage needs to be raised when it’s appropriate, but I think we need to keep it realistic, because minimum wage is something that’s entry level for people to start a job, but we don’t want people to stay there,” she said.
“People will get job training, education, they’ll work hard, they’ll get pay raises, they’ll get promotions, and people don’t have to be stuck at minimum wage forever.”
When she co-founded her nonprofit organization, ReOpen San Diego, Reichert advocated for the “safe and sensible” reopening of schools and businesses. Her opponent, San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Montgomery Steppe, helped pass a 2021 ordinance that required all city employees, elected officials, board or commission members and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
ReOpen San Diego sued in federal court on the grounds of unconstitutionality and discrimination. Reichert said the ordinance would’ve kept half of the city’s Black population from holding elected office because that demographic largely does not vaccinate. (Black Americans have historically distrusted healthcare systems due to medical atrocities committed against them.)
The city later repealed its ordinance and paid out $110,000 in lawsuit settlements to ReOpen San Diego and another organization that sued.
“It was wrong. It was discriminatory,” Reichert said.
Now, county hospitalizations and deaths are relatively low. But if San Diego ever faces a pandemic again, Reichert said as county supervisor, she would not shut down the county like it was done before. Especially now with new COVID-19 medicine such as monoclonal antibody treatments that could help prevent hospitalization, she said vaccination should be a choice.
“I am not anti-vaccine,” she said. “I am anti-mandate.”
Type of Content
News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.