George Barich recall, Cotati, California (2009)

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Cotati City Council member George Barich was recalled in a special recall election held on November 17, 2009 in Sonoma County, California, for voters in the City of Cotati.[1][2] Susan Harvey was elected to the seat made vacant by the recall of Barich.


Cotati is located about 45 miles north of San Francisco. Its population was estimated in 2006 at about 7,170. Barich was elected to a seat on the Cotati City Council in November 2008 by a five-vote margin.

Once Barich was recalled, the Cotati City Council voted unanimously to declare that Cotati is in a state of fiscal emergency and to place a Sales Tax Increase ballot proposition on the April 13, 2010 ballot. Barich said he would have opposed the fiscal emergency declaration if he were still on the council.[3]

Election results

George Barich recall
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 1,119 65.7%
No 571 34.3%
Total votes 1690 100.00%
Voter turnout 40[4]%

Aftermath of recall

In the aftermath of the recall, conservatives in Cotati said they would keep a close eye on city council politics. Barich had advocated positions such as outsourcing Cotati's planning department.

Cotati resident Greg Karraker, an advertising writer, said: "Conservatives tend to be polite, they tend to be respectful, they tend to be reserved -- and that's just not going to fly anymore. You look at the tea parties, you look at the town hall meetings. I think we're not going to sit back and let the liberals dominate anymore."[5]

In addition to Susan Harvey, who was elected to replace Barich, Mark Landman joined the city council. Landman, who was vocal in his support of the Barich recall, was appointed by the city council to replace John Guardino, who resigned in October.

Susan Harvey

Susan Harvey, a planning commissioner and 31-year Cotati resident, won the election for the seat made vacant by the recall vote on Barich. In her campaign, she called for a line-by-line analysis of the city's budget to find areas for cost savings.[4]

School board member Eric Kirchmann and planning commissioner Linell Hardy also ran for the seat that became vacant upon the recall of Barich.[1]

Recall supporters

  • Robert Coleman-Senghor, who said "I am for it, not because of Barich’s political philosophy but rather because of his political practices: his bullying and ridiculing of citizens, his skirting of city ordinances, his stretching the limits of his narrow authority, his misrepresentations of facts and twisting of unsettled law, his threats to the fiscal welfare of the city with shrouded intimations of litigation and his willful refusal to allow the people to exercise their collective will in matters of taxation."[6]
  • Mark Landman. Landman maintains a tally of how many "Yes on Recall' signs have been stolen from yards in his neighborhood.[7]

Reasons given by Barich's opponents for wanting to recall him included:

  • The claim that he misused city stationery to write President Obama.
  • The claim that he posted a racially charged picture on a personal website.
  • His use of an image of the Cotati official seal on his personal website.
  • He voted "no" on a resolution to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot; some in the city say that the sales tax was needed to keep Cotati solvent.

Recall opponents

  • Ken Coleman.
  • Phil Maher.[8]

John Guardino's 2006 campaign

Cotati's mayor, John Guardino, resigned from this position on October 23, 2009. After he resigned, he told city officials that when he ran for city office in 2006, his campaign staff accepted an illegal cash contribution and did not disclose the contribution.[8]

Linell Hardy was Guardino's 2006 campaign treasurer. On October 26, 2009, she reported the illegal contribution and failure to disclose to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.[8]

The illegal cash contribution became an issue in the closing days of the Barich recall because four people said that Barich was the source of the illegal contribution. The four people who said that Barich gave the money are John Guardino, Linell Hardy, Michelle Berman and Phil Maher.[8]

Barich denied making the contribution and said in an email to a local journalist, "I object to being implicated in anyone else's corrupt political campaigns."[8]

See also

External links