Dick Jones, Pat McKinley and Don Bankhead recall, Fullerton, California (2012)
A vote about whether to recall Dick Jones, Pat McKinley, and Don Bankhead from their positions as city councilors in Fullerton, California, in Orange County took place on June 5th, 2012. All three officials were recalled from their seats. The recall effort was launched in August 2011. Don Bankhead was previously recalled in 1994, but he was re-elected to the city council later that same year.
Jones was the mayor of Fullerton when the recall effort began, but Sharon Quirk-Silva took his place in December 2011. Jones remained a member of the city council until he was recalled.
Reasons for recall
Tony Bushala, a real estate developer, submitted the paperwork to begin the recall on August 12. His motivation for the recall related to the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man, on July 5 after a brutal encounter with six of Fullerton's police officers. Bushala was disturbed that Jones, McKinley and Bankhead were silent on the issue. He said, "basically, it is about a lack of transparency. It starts with what happened with Kelly Thomas and goes back to redevelopment issues and raising the water rates." All three recall targets opposed the public release of the video of Thomas' beating. After viewing the video of Thomas being brutally beaten to death, Jones said, "I've seen far worse injuries that are survivable. I don't know why he died." Bushala said, "the community was crying out in anger...They wanted leadership. Not only did Mayor Jones and Councilmen Bankhead and McKinley fail to lead, but they joined with those who downplayed this horror. They tried to cover it up and circle the wagons. Their actions were cowardly."
Other motivations for recall included the targeted officials' support for eminent domain and a water tax that was ruled to be illegal.
Path to the ballot
Bushala, along with Chris Thompson, a Fullerton school board member, had their recall petitions approved on September 9. Recall supporters then had to gather at least 10,554 registered voter signatures per council member by February 16, 2012, in order to put the recall targets on the chopping block in the next city council election primary.
In January 2012, recall organizers submitted 17,000 signatures to the city clerk. The city had 30 days to certify the signatures. If at least 10,554 signatures were found to be valid, the city council was required to schedule a special recall election.
On February 6th, the Orange County registrar of voters verified that recall organizers had submitted enough valid signatures to force a recall election. The signatures were officially certified at the February 21st city council meeting. The recall election took place in conjunction with the June 5th primary elections. All three recall targets were recalled.
Radio talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou supported the recall effort.
Recall supporters raised $169,317, primarily from Tony Bushala.
Supporters of Jones, McKinley and Bankhead countered the recall effort with a campaign of their own. Planning commissioner Larry Bennett, along with a former assemblyman and local businessmen, organized the "Protect Fullerton – Recall No" campaign, which accused recall organizers of "using the tragic death of a schizophrenic homeless man to settle old political grudges" and to "overturn last November's election to gain control of the City Council."
Recall opponents raised $61,903. The Fullerton Police Officers' Association made a $19,000 donation to the "Protect Fullerton – Recall NO" campaign. Other donors fighting the recall include the Peace Officers Research Association of California ($10,000), the Southern California Alliance of Law Enforcement ($1,000), and the Riverside Police Officers' Association ($1,500).
13 candidates filed to run as replacement candidates in the June 5th election.
Candidates who ran to replace Dick Jones:
- Roberta Reid, student
- Travis Kiger , planning commissioner
- Glenn P. Georgieff, IT specialist
- Mathew Hakim, musician/artist
- Dorothy Birsic
Candidates who ran to replace Pat McKinley:
- Matthew Rowe, aerospace project manager
- Doug Chaffee, business attorney
- Barry Levinson
- Sean Paden
Candidates who ran to replace Don Bankhead:
- Jane Rands, systems engineer
- Greg Sebourn, businessman/educator
- Paula Williams, public employee
- Rick Alvarez
The first question on the ballot asked voters if they would like to recall each respective candidate. The second question was a vote for a potential replacement, should the official be recalled. Since all three officials were recalled, they were all replaced. Travis Kiger replaced Dick Jones, Doug Chaffee replaced Pat McKinley, and Greg Sebourn replaced Don Bankhead.
- Recall campaigns in California
- City council recalls
- Laws governing recall in California
- Orange County
- Website of the City of Fullerton
- Fullerton Recall
- Friends for Fullerton's Future, a website that supported the recall
- Protect Fullerton - Recall No, a website that opposed the recall
- Orange County Register, "Fullerton council members headed for recall vote," February 21, 2012
- Orange County Register, "Election 2012: Fullerton City Council Recall results," June 5, 2012 (dead link)
- Los Angeles Times, "Fullerton to hire veteran watchdog to review Police Department," August 12, 2011
- KPCC, "After death of schizophrenic homeless man, Fullerton recall sweeps out 3 from city council," June 6, 2012
- Orange County Register, "Amid a backdrop of controversy, Fullerton gets new mayor," December 6, 2011
- Orange County Register, "Acting chief: Officers in Thomas case watched video," August 12, 2011
- Human Events, "Steven Greenhut: Changing the world one city at a time," May 14, 2012
- The Daily Titan, "Petitions against Fullerton council members approved," September 29, 2011
- Voice of OC, "Fullerton Recall Campaign Submits More Than 17,000 Signatures," January 20, 2012
- Los Angeles Times, "Recall election OKd for three Fullerton City Council members," February 6, 2012
- Los Angeles Times, "Furor-stoking L.A. radio duo defies pigeonholing," January 6, 2012
- Orange County Register, "$231,000 raised in Fullerton City Council recall," February 3, 2012
- Orange County Register, "Defenders try to thwart recall in wake of Kelly Thomas death," September 20, 2011
- Orange County Register, "13 file for Fullerton recall race," March 10, 2012