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Hercules mayor resigns as recall effort intensifies

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January 14, 2011

Joanne Ward, targeted for recall

HERCULES, California: Hercules mayor Ed Balico resigned abruptly on January 11, 2011, just minutes before he was due to be handed a notice of intent to recall.[1] The surprise resignation left city council members Donald Kuehne and Joanne Ward as the two remaining targets of a recall campaign fuelled by anger over "corruption, financial malfeasance and incompetent administration."[2]

With the resignation of Balico, the Hercules City Council is down to 4 members. New city council members John Delgado and Myrna de Vera were elected on the November 2, 2010 ballot, decisively defeating incumbents Kris Valstad and Joe Eddy McDonald as the first wave of voter discontent over what many perceive as financial shenanigans made itself felt at the ballot box.

If the recall effort against Ward and McDonald succeeds, the city council will have had a complete turnover in its membership.

Hercules is "a diverse Bay Area city of 25,000 people."[3]

Recall supporters include Cindy Rasmussen, who, at a city council meeting on January 11, 2011, when notices of intent to recall the three targets were served, said, "I continue to be shocked, appalled and, frankly, very incensed at the continual revelations of failures of leadership in this city by the long-term members of this City Council...We intend to take our city back and ensure that this pattern of corruption, lies and mismanagement will stop, and that you will answer for putting this wonderful city in horrendous financial jeopardy with your arrogance, your incompetence and your egregious lack of integrity."[4]

When Balico resigned, he said he wanted "to spend more time with his family."[1] According to Tom Barnidge, a columnist for the Contra Costa Times:

Donald Kuehne, targeted for recall
On the very night that a residents group planned to serve Hercules Mayor Ed Balico with a letter of intent to recall him from office -- in fact, minutes before it was to be slapped on his desk -- he announced he was stepping down from the City Council.

What are the odds of those events intersecting?

It's like a man deciding to step off a roadway just before a cement truck runs over him.

It was a lifestyle decision, Balico said. His many years in office, as a planning commissioner and council member, had made him a stranger to his wife and kids. Dinners were missed, vacations postponed. He'd even forgotten that his daughter plans to marry in May. (That should make for a fun family conversation.)[4]

When Kuehne, who was first elected to a four-year term on the Hercules City Council in 2010, was served with an intent of notice to recall on January 11, 2011, a local newspaper reported that he "...glared from his seat, a smirk peeking out from beneath his mustache, then tore apart the notice he'd been handed and tossed it over his shoulder."[4]

When Joanne Ward was served with an intent of notice to recall, she "...looked flush-faced stunned, as if she had just walked into a wall. She sat motionless, her lower lip hanging open as the charges were read. If a teleporter were available, she would have beamed herself anywhere else."[4]

See also