A Conversation with San Diego GOP candidate Amy Reichert

Amy Reichert is the Republican candidate for District 4 San Diego County Supervisor.  She ran in 2022 against Nathan Fletcher and lost.  Nathan Fletcher resigned from his position earlier this year after sexual misconduct allegations.  She ran against three other candidates the second time and the election will be heading to a runoff where the voting will begin in November.  The election is down to Monica Montgomery Steppe, a Democrat and the President pro Tempore of San Diego City Council and Amy Reichert.  Amy Reichert is a licensed private investigator, small business owner, and leader of a Christian 12-step rehab program.  She also founded ReOpen San Diego, an organization against COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.  Her top three priorities are lowering the cost of living, crime, and the homelessness population of San Diego.

Your first political campaign was against Nathan Fletcher last year and this is your second attempt.  What did you learn from running against Fletcher and how have you applied that to your campaign now? 

During my campaign against Fletcher, I personally experienced these derogatory terms and more.  I made a promise to myself and the public that I would maintain a higher standard, refraining from name-calling or mudslinging.

Now this year, with the Special Election underway to replace him, I'm running with the same principles that guided me in my previous campaign.  I firmly believe that how one conducts their campaign is indicative of how they will govern.  I've renewed my commitment against mudslinging, and I take pride in the race I've run.

You’ve been very open about your past personal struggles and how it has influenced your policies but how have they influenced you personally?  How have you grown from your experiences?

Twenty-five years ago, I was in the midst of a deeply challenging period in my life.  I was eight months pregnant with my first child when my father passed away due to MS when he was only 56 years old.  Just five weeks later, after a normal pregnancy but a week overdue, my daughter Ashley was born in a coma.  She spent three days in the NICU, and I held her in my arms as her heartbeat slowly faded away.

In the aftermath of these heart-wrenching losses, I found myself seeking help through emergency grief counseling.  I was put on a regimen of various antidepressants at the highest dosages, and I was diagnosed with major depression and PTSD.  Unfortunately, I turned to alcohol as a way to cope.

But in 2004, a profound transformation occurred in my life.  I found solace and renewal in my faith as I became a Christian and embarked on the journey to sobriety.

Now, I no longer think of my experience as PTSD; I prefer to call it PTSG, (Post Traumatic Stress Growth).  Through this challenging journey, I discovered the power of finding meaning and purpose in life.

Monica Montgomery Steppe has more experience in politics.  Why do you think you’re still the better candidate despite having less experience?

The cost of living is skyrocketing, homelessness is on the rise, and crime rates are increasing.  As an elected representative in the City of San Diego, my opponent's tenure has been marked by a growing sense of disillusionment among the people.  Many feel that their voices aren't being heard, and they're deeply concerned about San Diego becoming like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

My candidacy represents an alternative path forward.  I bring a fresh perspective, unencumbered by the baggage of traditional politics.  I am committed to listening to the concerns of the people, addressing the root causes of the problems we face, and implementing innovative solutions.  It's not about the years of experience; it's about the ability to bring about real change and make a positive impact on the lives of San Diego residents.

Why should we focus more on the mental health issue of homelessness rather than the economic issues? 

There's a well-established connection between homelessness, severe mental illness, and severe addiction.  In California, for instance, the state has invested a staggering $23 billion in the "Housing First" approach, which primarily treats homelessness as an economic crisis.  Unfortunately, despite this substantial investment, chronic homelessness has continued to increase.

To truly make a difference and reduce homelessness in our community, we must take a comprehensive approach that includes mental health support, addiction treatment, and affordable housing solutions.  This way, we can tackle the root causes of homelessness and provide those in need with the holistic help they require to rebuild their lives and regain stability.

You want to lead with compassion for people struggling with mental illness, yet you also want to mandate mental health and addiction facilities.  Why is forcing homeless people to go into a treatment center against their will the compassionate thing to do?

Allowing people to sleep, suffer, and die on the streets is not compassionate.  The tragic statistics from San Diego, where the number of unhoused people who died last year increased sixfold since 2012, with 588 lost lives, highlight the severity of the issue.  Often, individuals who are severely mentally ill or grappling with severe addiction find themselves in encounters with the police, leading to incarceration.

In such cases, where someone is either mentally ill, struggling with severe addiction, and has committed a serious crime, I advocate for an alternative approach -- mandatory treatment rather than incarceration.  This isn't about punishment; it's about providing the help and rehabilitation they need to rebuild their lives and find hope through treatment and recovery.  It's a compassionate way to address the root causes of their issues and ensure that they receive the support they require for a better future. 

Crime is a huge problem in San Diego.  Will you adopt a tough on crime approach to public safety or a more holistic and humane approach? 

While it's crucial to hold individuals accountable when they commit crimes and victimize others, we must take a more holistic approach that emphasizes rehabilitation rather than simply locking people up and throwing away the key.  We should strive to address the root causes of criminal behavior and provide opportunities for individuals to reform, reintegrate into society, and become productive citizens.  Tough-on-crime policies have their place, but they should be complemented by humane and rehabilitative approaches that aim to break the cycle of crime and create safer, more inclusive communities.

Do you foresee yourself also getting involved in preventing discrimination against the unvaxxed employees in private companies?

Now, when it comes to private employers, it's worth noting that most vaccine mandates have been rescinded.  My commitment to defending workers' rights remains steadfast, and I will always advocate for fairness and justice in the workplace, no matter the setting. 

If you win and become County Supervisor, how will you make sure people know that you are not a politician despite you being one?

My commitment to putting people first and serving them remains unwavering.  People know that they can rely on me to act in their best interests and do what's right, regardless of political labels.  I aim to continue being a public servant who prioritizes the well-being of our community and isn't bound by typical political constraints.

Image: Amy Reichert for San Diego

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