Frank Lopez recall, Vista, California (2011)
Recall organizers had until February 11, 2011 to submit the signatures of 6,714 registered voters.
Gene Ford was a leader in the recall effort. Ford is the co-founder of South Vista Communities and a board member of the Shadowridge Owners’ Association. He has run unsuccessfully for the Vista City Council.
Frank Lopez, the recall target, owns a restaurant, Casa Linda. It was revealed during 2010 that he failed to pay federal and state taxes associated with the business totalling well over $100,000. He also has not paid several civil judgments. The restaurant closed in the fall of 2010.
At the time of the attempted recall, Lopez was serving a four-year term that ends in 2012. He was first elected to the Vista City Council in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008.
At the Vista city council meeting on September 28, the other members of the city council voted 4-0 to remove Lopez from the 4 city commissions he had served on.
In mid-September 2010, Lopez pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to pay workers' compensation premiums for employees at his restaurant.
This resulted in a sentence for Lopez and his wife, Mary, of having to pay restitution of $12,000, spend one night in jail, and serve 120 days of community service.
Lopez was accused of issuing "hundreds of bad checks" to employees of the restaurant but no official charges were filed regarding this alleged transgression.
In the wake of the guilty plea, some thought that Lopez would resign from the Vista City Council. Every other member of the Vista City Council has called for him to resign. However, Lopez has indicated that he will not be resigning and that he will vigorously fight the recall effort against him.
- "“My performance and record as a councilman and my strong community support speaks for itself. The people of my community and our local businessmen know I am always fighting for them and have always responded to their needs. I will not allow a small handful of political activists to keep me from my commitment and service to the people of Vista."
Path to the ballot
From the time that the city clerk approved the form of a recall petition, recall supporters had 120 days to collect signatures equalling at least 20% of Vista's 32,872 registered voters. The deadline was February 11, 2011. About 6,576 signatures were required.
Recall organizers said that they planned to collect the signatures they needed on an all-volunteer basis. Mary Azevedo, a political consultant in Oceanside, said this will be difficult: "It's a lot harder than most people think it is to gather the required amount of signatures. You can't do it by just standing in front of grocery stores; you really do have to get out there and find those registered voters."
Recall organizers published an advertisement on January 17, 2011 in the Vista edition of the North County Times that promoted the idea of the desirability of the recall and included a copy of the recall petition. At the time the ad ran, recall organizer Gene Ford said that about 2,000 signatures toward the recall effort had been gathered and that the ad was a "last-ditch" effort to secure the remaining required signatures before the February 11 deadline.
In the first week of February 2011, recall organizer Ford told a local newspaper, ""Things are happening at such a rapid pace and petitions are still being mailed in and these are generally those with multiple signatures. However, I cannot tell yet if this recall will be successful."
- North County Times, "Lopez recall attempt fails," February 11, 2011
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Resident plans Lopez recall effort," August 13, 2010
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Lopez recall effort lagging," December 31, 2010
- North County Times, "VISTA: Recall petition ready to circulate," October 14, 2010
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Lopez removed from committee posts," September 28, 2010
- 10 News, "Vista Councilman Won't Resign Despite Guilty Plea," September 10, 2010
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Lopez says he won't resign, will fight a recall," September 17, 2010
- San Diego Union Tribune, "Lopez recall effort takes first step," September 23, 2010
- North County Times, "Frank Lopez recall effort faces big hurdles," November 5, 2010
- North County Times, "Lopez recall petition runs in the paper," January 17, 2011
- North County Times, "Effort to recall Lopez enters final week," February 4, 2011