Antonio Villaraigosa recall, Los Angeles, California (2010)
In July, recall organizer Phil Jennerjahn said he was abandoning the effort: "Recall City Hall currently does not have enough signatures or raised enough money to successfully put Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a recall ballot."
At the time the recall effort was launched, Villaraigosa was serving in his second four-year term as the city's mayor, having been elected most recently in March 2009 in an election in which only 9.6% of eligible voters cast a vote.
Walter Moore, Phil Jennerjahn, David Hernandez and Augusto Bisani were leaders in the recall effort.
Hernandez said that Villaraigosa should be removed from office because he failed to heed warnings that the recession would come to Los Angeles, and therefore failed to plan for it. Hernandez believed that the amount of services being cut, the layoffs taking place and the city's spending are a "total abuse of the position" of mayor and are a natural result of Villaraigosa failing to understand fiscal prudent management.
Other reasons given by supporters of the recall focused on problems with the Los Angeles city budget.
- The city's spending has increased 32% during Villaraigosa's first 5 years in office from $5.3 billion to $7 billion.
- 10% of the city's budget is spent through the Community Redevelopment Agency which, according to recall supporters, gives money to private corporations and individuals who are politically connected.
- Los Angeles has a 13.6% unemployment rate, with 259,250 people out of work.
- "He ignored loud shouts from fiscal experts and auditors that he and city officials were burning through cash faster than a NASCAR speedway team and that there was nothing coming in. What did Tony do? He burned more cash in sweetheart deals with his city employee union chums for pay raises and benefits while squandering more cash on his bloated entourage of deputy mayors, consultants and assorted City Hall hangers-on."
Boycott of Arizona
The Los Angeles City Council voted in May to boycott Arizona, because of Arizona's adoption of a tough new immigration law. Recall organizer David Hernandez said that in the wake of that action by the city council, he planned to approach Arizona businesses to ask them for donations to the campaign fund to recall Villaraigosa. Hernandez said, "We think they might be angry at the city over the boycott and help us out. We know the recall will not be successful unless we raise between $500,000 and $1 million to hire circulators. It's hard when we are limited to contributions of $1,000."
Fernando Espuelas, the host of Café Espuelas on Univision Radio, is opposed to the Villaraigosa recall, while simultaneously understanding why Angelenos are pushing for it.
Espuelas writes, "While these passions are understandable, and perhaps even completely justified by the toxic combination of the Mayor's incompetence in dealing with the city's crisis and his obsession for the limelight, it would be a mistake to recall Villaraigosa." Espuelas says it would be a mistake for 5 reasons:
- Elections have consequences. Villaraigosa won 55% of the vote in his 2009 re-election. Voters should learn from the increasing attention to Villaraigosa's weak points to pay more attention when they vote.
- If Villaraigosa is recalled, he would probably be replaced by one of the city council members, but the "Los Angeles City Council is largely made up of craven mediocrities who have objectively failed as leaders during this crisis. We don't need another weak mayor beholden to special interests."
- Los Angeles is in a crisis and it is risky to change jockeys in the middle of a race. Also, "The crisis of Los Angeles is the creation, or at least the result, of gross incompetence on the part of the Mayor and the City Council. They made the mess, let them clean it up and pay the political price."
- There is "a real risk that Los Angeles could collapse into some kind of municipal bankruptcy. A change in leadership at this time would be highly destabilizing and diminish the chances of navigating through the storm into safe harbor. A messy recall election - and it would be very messy - will undoubtedly spook bond investors and rating agencies even further."
- "A high-profile expulsion of the Mayor would further damage Los Angeles' image."
Path to the ballot
Recall organizers would have had to collect a minimum of 240,732 signatures in the 120 day period between April 20 and August 18 to force a recall vote.
- Recall campaigns in California
- Political recall efforts, 2010
- Mayoral recalls
- Los Angeles County, California ballot measures
- Contra Costa Times, "Villaraigosa targeted in recall effort," April 20, 2010
- Los Angeles Daily News July 25, 2010
- City Watch LA, "Campaign to Recall Villaraigosa Launches"
- CBS, "Mayor Villaraigosa Target Of Recall Campaign," April 21, 2010
- Daily News, "Friendly Fire: The mayor's mess," April 25, 2010
- Los Angeles Daily News, "Mayor recall backers seek Arizonans' help," May 16, 2010
- Huffington Post, "The Case for Not Recalling Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa," July 1, 2010