Billy Siegel recall, Lemoore, California (2014)
During a January 7, 2014 meeting of the Lemoore City Council, resident Jane Dart served Siegel with a notice of the intent to circulate a recall petition. The recall effort dated to summer 2013. At issue were a series of council and mayoral decisions, including the outsourcing of the city's planning department, increased health benefits for council members and proposals for the sale of the Lemoore Municipal Golf Course. Dart said, "I think the average citizen around Lemoore does not like what has happened over the last year. We were a quiet little bedroom community before this."
In response to the recall effort, Siegel said, "I'll stick to more important topics. This is a joke."
On March 25, 2014, educator and publisher of the Lemoore Leader Ed Martin filed suit against Siegel, claiming that Siegel attempted to have Martin terminated from his position at a local high school. Martin also alleged that Siegel sent a defamatory email message about Martin to the school superintendent and select city officials. Recall proponents cited this message in their efforts against Siegel.
Path to the ballot
- See also: Laws governing recall in California
The recall committee first had to submit to the city clerk proof of publication of the recall notice. Siegel then had seven days from the filing date to respond to the notice. There was some controversy surrounding Siegel's response, which was printed on official city letterhead. Recall proponents maintained that such use of the city letterhead was inappropriate. The law is unclear on the matter, establishing on the one hand that personal use of public resources is illegal, but providing for "incidental and minimal" use of such resources for personal purposes.
Recall supporters filed copies of the proposed petition form with the city clerk within 10 days of Siegel's response. The proposed petition was approved by the city clerk, and recall proponents had until May 5, 2014 to collect the signatures necessary to trigger a recall election. Dart revealed on May 6, 2014 that the signature-collecting efforts had fallen short by approximately 100 signatures, meaning that the recall would not go to a vote (roughly 2,300 signatures would have been needed to trigger a recall election). Siegel said, "I do no my job without worrying about the next election. We will continue to save money and run an efficient government. We will continue to make decisions based on logic and reason." Dart said, "If he continues going the way he's been going, there will be another recall."
- The Sentinel, "Lemoore mayor served with recall notice," January 9, 2014
- The Sentinel, "Lemoore recall effort fails," May 6, 2014
- The Sentinel, "Lemoore educator, newsman suing mayor for defamation," April 9, 2014
- The Sentinel, "Lemoore mayor recall group questions use of city letterhead," February 1, 2014