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Total recall: 22 local officials face day of reckoning on November 6

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October 30, 2012

By Kelly O'Keefe

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On November 6, 22 officials in 6 states face the prospect of being recalled from office. Officeholders in Arkansas, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska will fight to be retained by voters. Below is a breakdown of the recall action in each state.

Arkansas

See also: Recall campaigns in Arkansas

Mayoral recalls

Arkansas will see the most recall action of any state on November 6, with six mayors facing recall. Voters will go to the polls to decide whether Tim McLellan of Kingsland, Ronnie Conley of Cotton Plant, Johnny McMahan of Bauxite, Paul Mitchell of Alexander, Tony Lawhon of Redfield, and Clinton Harris of Wilmot can keep their elected positions.[1][2][3]

Arkansas recall action in 2012

The six recall elections taking place on November 6 are the first recall elections to take place in Arkansas in 2012. Recall efforts against three other mayors, Jill Dabbs of Bryant, Jeff Crockett of Harrison, and Sheila Walters of Trumann, failed to make the ballot.

California

See also: Recall campaigns in California

San Fernando

San Fernando, California city councilors Mario Hernandez, Maribel De La Torre, and Brenda Esqueda are all facing recall.[4] While Hernandez resigned from his post in July 2012, his name will still appear on the recall ballot in accordance with the laws governing recall in California. Activity on the city council has been more reminiscent of a soap opera than of a local government. At a November 2011 city council meeting, Hernandez, who is married, announced that he was having an affair with De La Torre.[5] In June 2012, Hernandez and De La Torre had a violent altercation that resulted in De La Torre being charged with vandalism and battery.[6] Meanwhile, Esqueda is openly having an extra-marital affair with police sergeant Alvaro Castellon. All three city councilors have been accused of interfering with a police investigation that involved Castellon allegedly making criminal threats against a police cadet who was having an affair with Chief of Police Anthony Ruelas.[7] The police cadet, Maria Barajas, has sued the city, claiming that Castellon told her she "could disappear."

The three recall targets have been accused of retaliating against recall supporters by selectively enforcing obscure city codes, and voting for a controversial "decorum ordinance" that would physically remove and impose fines on those who are considered "out of order" at city council meetings.[8][9]

Orange Cove

Frank Martinez and Glenda Hill, members of the Orange Cove City Council, are also up for recall on November 6. Former Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez organized the recall effort. He says Martinez and Hill are "running the city into a bankruptcy." Lopez is running as a replacement candidate in the election, meaning that if either Martinez or Hill is recalled, he could take one of their seats on the council.[10]

California recall action in 2012

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Historical recalls
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  • Retained officials: Two California officials have survived recall elections this year. David Plank, mayor of Ione, was retained in a special election on February 28. John Huerta Jr., mayor of Greenfield, was initially thought to have lost his seat, but a recount of the ballots cast in the June 5 election revealed that he had been retained.[11]
  • Not on the ballot: 27 recall campaigns targeting 57 different California officials have failed to make the ballot in 2012. Notable among these efforts was the failed campaign to remove Oakland's mayor, Jean Quan, from her post.[12]
  • Resignations: Five officials facing recall in California have resigned from office this year. The former officials who voluntarily stepped down include Brian Dawson, a former member of the Discovery Bay Community Services District Board. Prior to leaving office, Dawson was charged with spousal battery and child endangerment.[13] Tony Vang, a former member of the Fresno Unified School Board, stepped down from his position after it was discovered that he both lived and voted outside of the district he represented.[14]
  • In progress: Seven recall efforts against twelve different officials are still in the signature collection phase. Among the ongoing recall efforts is the Huntington Park City Council recall. Huntington Park Mayor Andy Molina, Vice Mayor Elba Guerrero, and council members Mario Gomez, Ofelia Hernandez, and Rose Perez are under scrutiny for paying former City Attorney Francisco Leal over $600,0000 per year. Leal resigned on the day the recall campaign was announced.[15]

Kansas

See also: Recall campaigns in Kansas

Baxter Springs

Three members of the Baxter Springs, Kansas city council are facing recall. Gary Allen, Ron Costlow, and Ed McAfee are accused of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act and hiring an expensive taxpayer-funded city attorney.[16]

Kansas recall action in 2012

  • Kansas has already held three recall elections this year, resulting in four officials losing their jobs and one official being retained in office. On February 27 in Basehor, Kansas, Terry Hill lost his position as mayor while Basehor City Council members Dennis Mertz and Iris Dysart were also removed from office.[17]
  • Darlene Johnson of the Plainville Unified School District was recalled from office on August 7 after being accused of "verbally assaulting and committing battery upon" former principal Troy Keiswetter.[18]
  • Also on August 7, Greg York, a city commissioner of Parsons, was retained in office.[19]
  • A recall effort against Larry Wilson, the treasurer of Shawnee County, failed to make the ballot.[20]

Massachusetts

See also: Recall campaigns in Massachusetts

Bridgewater

In Bridgewater, Massachusetts, a long-delayed recall election will determine whether town councilors Mike Demos and Peter Riordan can keep their seats.[21] The Bridgewater recall was originally initiated in October 2011, but conflicting interpretations of the town's charter resulted in a series of legal challenges that delayed the recall process. Although sufficient signatures were certified in February 2012, the town refused to schedule a recall election.[22] In August 2012, Judge Robert C. Cosgrove ruled that the town was required to schedule a recall election.[23]

Massachusetts recall action in 2012

  • The Bridgewater recall is the second recall election in Massachusetts this year. On February 6, two members of the Templeton Board of Selectmen, Julie Farrell and Robert Mitchell, were successfully recalled from office.[24]
  • A recall effort against Will Flanagan, mayor of Fall River, came to a halt in February after the city repeatedly rejected the recall affidavit.
  • In August, a recall effort against Donald Cykowski, a city councilman from Easthampton, narrowly missed making the ballot. Recall organizers were able to gather 2,218 signatures, which was 17 signatures shy of forcing a recall election.[25]

Michigan

See also: Recall campaigns in Michigan

Troy

In Troy, embattled mayor Janice Daniels is facing recall. Daniels, a Republican who became mayor in 2010, has become a controversial figure. The recall effort against Daniels was mobilized after she made derogatory statements about homosexuality and voted against $8.5 million in federal funding for a transit center.[26] The official recall petition charges Daniels with "embarrassing the citizens of the City of Troy on January 9, 2012, by telling high school students planning an anti-bullying program that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous."[27]

In a radio interview after she made the comments, Daniels said, "I would bring a doctor into a meeting that would say that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous...Had I been with a group of smokers I might have said I would like to bring a doctor into this meeting to say that smoking is dangerous.”[28]

Alpena

In Alpena, Michigan, the mayor and two members of the city council are facing recall. Matt Wilogora, Mike Nunneley, and Dave Karschnick were targeted for recall after they voted to fire former City Manager Thad Taylor. Waligora serves as mayor of Alpena, while Nunneley and Karschnick are members of the city council.[29]

Michigan recall action in 2012

  • Recalled officials: So far in 2012, two officials have been recalled in Michigan. Recalled officials include Howard Rigg, former mayor of Tekonsha, and Duane Grifes, a former village trustee in Pierson. In the small village of Pierson, eleven people voted to recall Grifes, while eight people voted to retain him.[30]
  • Not on the ballot: 17 recall campaigns targeting 40 different Michigan officials have failed to make the ballot in 2012. The thwarted recall efforts included attempts to remove three state senators: Bruce Caswell, Phil Pavlov, and Patrick Colbeck. Two efforts to recall Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, whose aides have been charged with extortion, theft, obstruction of justice, and taking kickbacks, also came up short.[33]
  • Resignations: Three officials facing recall in Michigan have resigned from office this year. The former officials who voluntarily stepped down include Rebecca Starr, a former village trustee in Pierson, who resigned despite being retained in a recall election, and Michael Cox and Antonio Martini, former Kalkasa County commissioners. Cox resigned for health reasons, while Martini resigned after he was arrested for driving under the influence.[34][35]
  • In progress: Seven recall efforts against 17 different officials are still in the signature collection phase. Among the ongoing recall efforts is the campaign to unseat Charlie Watson, mayor of Cedar Springs. The catalyst for recall is the fact that the city of Cedar Springs has had to remove all images of red pajama bottoms from city property in order to avoid paying trademark fees to the Red Flannel Festival Corporation. Cedar Springs is home to the annual Red Flannel Festival, which is run by a nonprofit entity. Festival officials trademarked the image of red flannel pajamas, and they requested that the city pay a $4,000 licensing fee for the right to use the red flannel logo.[36]

Nebraska

See also: Recall campaigns in Nebraska

Superior

Carrie Lemke, a member of the city council in Superior, Nebraska, is facing recall. Four city council members were originally targeted for recall, but signatures were only submitted and verified on Lemke's recall petition. The recall effort was launched after the introduction of Superior's controversial "nuisance abatement program," which officials claim is intended to get rid of nuisance properties and houses that are poorly maintained. Some city residents see the program as a violation of privacy.[37]

Nebraska recall action in 2012

  • Two recall elections have taken place in Nebraska in 2012. Allen Rolf was recalled from his position on the Dodge County School Board on January 31. Fawn Steiff, the mayor of Newman Grove, was retained in office on May 15.

See also

References

  1. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Three mayors facing rare recall action," August 8, 2012
  2. Cleveland County Herald, "Recall Election Set For Kingsland Mayor," August 8, 2012
  3. Arkansas Matters, "Redfield Mayor Faces Recall Election," August 8, 2012
  4. CBS Los Angeles, "San Fernando City Council Schedules Recall Election," July 17, 2012
  5. CBS Los Angeles, "San Fernando Mayor Announces Affair With City Councilwoman In Front Of Wife, Residents," November 28, 2011
  6. Los Angeles Times, "San Fernando councilwoman charged with attack on ex-lover," July 13, 2012
  7. San Fernando Valley Sun, "Council Meeting Brings More Innuendo, Accusations and Public In-Fighting," February 23, 2012
  8. San Fernando Valley Sun, "San Fernando Residents Allege Reprisals for Support of Recall ," May 17, 2012
  9. San Fernando Valley Sun, "San Fernando City Council Passes Controversial Decorum Ordinance Despite Public Protest," June 7, 2012
  10. Fresno Bee, "Ex-Orange Cove mayor Victor Lopez leads recall," August 16, 2012
  11. Monterey County Herald, "Election update: Latest count doesn't yield many changes," June 15, 2012
  12. San Francisco Chronicle, "Bid to recall Oakland Mayor Jean Quan fizzles," June 28, 2011
  13. Contra Costa Times, "Elections office approves recall petition for Discovery Bay board member," November 10, 2011
  14. Fresno Bee, "Embattled Fresno Unified trustee Tony Vang resigns," September 18, 2012
  15. CBS Los Angeles, "Huntington Park City Attorney Resigns Amid Corruption Allegations, Recall Effort," October 17, 2012
  16. Joplin Globe, "Recall of Baxter Springs council members to be on November ballot," August 30, 2012
  17. KMBC.com, "Basehor Mayor, 2 Council Members Recalled," February 28, 2012
  18. Salina Journal, "Commissioner race ends in tie," August 9, 2012
  19. SEKinfo.com, "Primary Election Results," August 8, 2012
  20. Topeka Capital-Journal, "Drive seeking to recall Larry Wilson fails," March 11, 2012
  21. Wicked Local Bridgewater, "With Poll: candidates square off on the reason for the Bridgewater recall," October 2, 2012
  22. Wicked Local, "Bridgewater Town Council votes to table recall debate," April 6, 2012
  23. Enterprise News, "Judge rules Bridgewater recall must go forward," August 7, 2012
  24. Worcester Telegram & Gazette, "Recalled Templeton selectman wants election ballots recounted," February 7, 2012
  25. The Republican, "Donald Cykowski recall petition final recount tally in Easthampton: Bid falls 17 votes shy," August 8, 2012
  26. Detroit News "Vote on recall polarizes Troy," October 19, 2012
  27. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named patch
  28. CBS Detroit "Troy Mayor: ‘Homosexual Lifestyle Is Dangerous’," June 13, 2012
  29. The Alpena News "Enough signatures for recall to be placed on November ballot," August 2, 2012
  30. Grand Rapids News "City Hall Roll Call election edition: Recall leaves Pierson council with two people," August 8, 2012
  31. The Mining Journal "Recall fails in Ishpeming," May 9, 2012
  32. Grand Rapids News "Pierson president survives recall by 3 votes, 3 trustees now targeted," May 9, 2012
  33. Detroit News "Wayne board weighs vote on Ficano," March 19, 2012
  34. The Leader "Cox resigns; recalls for two commissioners moves forward," February 15, 2012
  35. The Leader "Commissioner submits letter of resignation following OWI arrest," April 4, 2012
  36. Cedar Springs Post "Language on recall petition approved," October 11, 2012
  37. KHAS-TV, "Superior residents demand city changes," September 17, 2012
  38. My Wayne News, "Wurdeman special election is Nov. 20," October 9, 2012