Kathy Salazar and Robert Urteaga recall, Montebello, California (2010)
In the same election, Christina Cortez was elected to fill the seat Robert Urteaga had occupied, and Alberto Perez was elected to fill the seat made vacant by the recall of Kathy Salazar.
Salazar and Urteaga were targeted for the recall effort because of a July 2008 vote to award an exclusive no-bid 15-year contract to haul all of Montebello's trash to a company called Athens Service. The exclusive contract was a dramatic departure from the way garbage was previously handled in Montebello. In the past, refuse was picked up in Montebello's commercial areas by close to a dozen small, independent trash-haulers. It is those small, independent trash-haulers whose livelihoods were threatened by the July 2008 vote who were behind the recall.
Recall targets Salazar and Urteaga were each in the middle of four-year terms. Former Mayor Rosie Vasquez, who voted with Salazar and Urteaga to give the 15-year no-bid contract to Athens, ran for re-election in November 2009 and lost.
Montebello has about 62,000 residents, 25,500 of whom are registered to vote. Approximately 3,800 voted in the recall election on February 23.
Cumulatively, Salazar, Urteaga and the seven candidates who vied for the seats that became vacant when they were recalled, spent $300,000 on their campaigns heading into the February 23 election.
|Should Kathy Salazar be recalled?|
|Should Robert Urteaga be recalled?|
Richard Garcia ran for the seat on the Montebello City Council that became vacant when Robert Urteaga was recalled. Garcia has worked for local members of the California State Assembly and for the Vons Grocery Company.
Alberto Perez ran for the seat that became vacant when Kathy Salazar was recalled. Perez is the president of the Lions Club of Montebello. He also volunteers with the Boy Scouts, Neighborhood Watch, the Boy Scouts and the Citizens Patrol Unit of the Montebello Police Department.
Other candidates for Salazar's seat were Maria C. Halpern and Jorge Manzur.
Other candidates for Urteaga's seat were Christina Cortez, Robert M. "Bobby" Gutierrez and Larry Salazar.
Those who supported the recall organized in a group called "Save Our City." This group was primarily funded by the small trash-haulers who used to take care of Montebello's trash-removal needs. In the first six months of 2009, this group raised $128,500 in contributions.
Chris Robles was the main spokesperson for the group.
The editorial board of the Pasadena Star News supported the recall.
When a recall action is announced, recall supporters must provide a list of their reasons. The reasons provided on February 13, 2009 by those wanting to recall Salazar were:
- "...allegedly laundering campaign money."
- "...alleged ethical misconduct"
- "...supporting special interests."
Salazar denied these accusations.
An additional reason recall supporters gave for removing Salazar from office is that she "used tax dollars to block every effort of the people" to vote on the Montebello trash-hauling contract referendum.
Reasons given by recall supporters for removing Urteaga from office included:
- In 1998, he pleaded no contest to grand theft of personal property totaling $30,000.
- "...lying to the public"
- "...supporting special interests."
Supporters of Salazar and Urteaga formed a group called "Say No on Recall." This group was almost exclusively funded by Athens Service, the company that was awarded an exclusive 15-year contract by the city council members whose recall is sought. In the first six months of the year, "Say No On Recall" was given $174,250 by Athens.
Path to the ballot
To qualify the recall for the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 5,099 valid signatures, a number equal to 20% of Montebello's 25,496 registered voters. On July 27, signatures were turned in equaling:
- 14,959 to recall Salazar
- 11,871 to recall Urteaga.
On October 4, election officials certified that sufficient signatures had been turned in to trigger a recall election.
The recall election had been scheduled for February 16, 2010; however, the date was changed because February 16 is the day after President's Day and the state election code says "No election shall be held on any other day other than a Tuesday nor shall it be held on the day of, before, or after a state holiday."
- Montebello trash-hauling contract referendum, March 2009
- Recall campaigns in California
- Los Angeles County, California ballot measures
- Vote fraud in California
- Montebello recall signatures in the hands of city, county, July 30, 2009
- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Recall on for Montebello City Council," October 5, 2009
- Whittier Daily News, "Salazar, Urteaga recalled in Montebello," February 23, 2010
- Whittier Daily News, "Two council members targeted in today's recall election in Montebello," February 22, 2010
- Whittier Daily News, "Costs skyrocket for Montebello recall campaign sparked by garbage contract," August 16, 2009
- Pasadena Star News, "Our View: Vote Garcia, Perez in Montebello recall," February 18, 2010
- Whittier Daily News, "Montebello recall race heats up with seven candidates hoping to replace two current council members," December 15, 2009
- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Montebello recall election date to be reconsidered due to state holiday," October 20, 2009