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Lance MacLean recall, Mission Viejo, California (2010)

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Lance MacLean, a member of the Mission Viejo City Council and its Mayor, was recalled in a February 2, 2010 recall election.[1] The effort to recall MacLean began in March 2009.[2]

MacLean was first elected to his position on the city council in 2002. He was re-elected in 2006 to a second four-year term. If he had not been recalled, he term would have ended later in 2010. MacLean was Mission Viejo's Mayor Pro Tempore in 2005 and the Mayor in 2006.

Barbara Anderson, Connie Lee and Dale Tyler were leaders in the successful recall effort.[3]

Orange County election officials administered the recall election. 13,662 of Mission Viejo's 61,924 registered voters cast a vote in the recall election, or about 22%.[4]

Election results

With all 38 of Mission Viejo's precincts counted, unofficial results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters indicated that MacLean lost his attempt to avoid recall by a tiny 19-vote margin. MacLean had the option of requesting a recount but he decided not to pursue that option.[5][6][7]

Should Lance MacLean be recalled?
Approveda Yes 7,370 50.1%
These final, certified, results are from the Orange County elections office.

In the election to fill the seat made vacant by the recall of MacLean, Dave Leckness defeated Dale Tyler:

  • Votes for Leckness: 6,396 (54.6%)
  • Votes for Tyler: 5,311 (45.4%)[4]

Motivation for recall

Those supporting the recall gave as their reasons:

  • In 2008, he allowed expenditures in the city to exceed revenues by more than $11 million.
  • In a 2004 quote featured in the Los Angeles Times, MacLean spoke of some city residents in an unflattering way, saying, "Apparently, Mission Viejo was too busy developing its master plan in 1965 and missed the civil-rights movement. . . . I’m embarrassed and disappointed that so many people in the community would engage in such exclusionary politics that border on bigotry and racism."
  • A 2007 altercation with a co-worker requiring four police officers to wrestle MacLean down and handcuff him.[8]
  • A 100% pay raise for city council members in 2008.[9]
  • Members of the city council, including MacLean, voted to give themselves lifetime healthcare benefits after three years of part-time service.[9]
  • He "authored, promoted and sponsored Measure K, a tax increase, after promising no tax increases."[10]

City Council members John Paul Ledesma and Cathy Schlicht signed the recall petition.[11]

MacLean's response

In response to the recall effort, MacLean criticized the approximate $265,000 cost of a special recall election taking place in the same year when he would have been up for re-election. "I am sorry that the residents of Mission Viejo are going to have to shoulder $265,000 when my term ends in November 2010. This is a travesty and a horrible waste of taxpayer monies, all for a personal vendetta."[11]

At a city council meeting in October 2009, MacLean referred to fellow city council member John Paul Ledesma as "J.P. Lobotomy."

McLean gave a series of responses to the main allegations raised against him:[12]

  • He did grab a co-worker's shoulders, under conditions he describes as, "Realizing that danger of injury was imminent I repeatedly sought the help of this co-worker, but was continuously ignored. Reacting out of fear for others safety, I made a snap decision and grabbed my co-worker's shoulders to gain his attention. In the heat of the moment, but with good intentions, I reacted inappropriately and for this isolated incident I have paid a dear price for the mistake. The fact is, I was never arrested and the District Attorney dismissed the case as the accusations were unfounded."[12]
  • "I did tell Gail Reavis to 'shut up' during a closed session meeting in response to her condescendingly calling me 'sweetie.' The tape of that exchange was released to the public, proving unequivocally, the exaggerations of her claims. The exchange was unprofessional on my part, yet it is being mischaracterized to impugn my character by opponents."[12]
  • In response to the concern that he engaged in self-dealing "when he voted to double his council salary during our current economic crisis," MacLean says, "In August 2008, the City Council approved by a 4-1 vote a cost of living and inflation adjustment to their stipend, which had remained unchanged for 20 years. The stipend was first established in 1988 at $500 ($6,000 per year) and when adjusted for cost of living and inflation is now $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year)."[12]
  • Recall advocates say MacLean "exhibited greed and corrupt priorities when he voted to give himself lifetime medical benefits at taxpayer expense after only 12 years of part-time council service." MacLean says, "Lifetime medical benefits were established by a former council that included John Paul Ledesma (a current council member and recall proponent). I voted to rescind lifetime medical benefits and the council was advised by the city attorney to return to the status quo on threat of a lawsuit by Gail Reavis. I rescinded and forfeited lifetime medical benefits in an irrevocable written contract with the city."[12]


  • The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs supported MacLean.[13]

Replacement candidates

Dave Leckness campaign video

Dale Tyler and Dave Leckness were on the February 2 recall ballot as replacements should voters decide to remove MacLean from office.[1]

  • Leckness, a former planning commissioner, was endorsed by the County Professional Firefighter's Association. He won the election.[14]
  • Dale Tyler ran as a fiscal conservative.[14]

Path to the ballot

13,915 signatures were submitted in the recall effort, versus a requirement of 9,393 valid signatures.[15][16][17]

Petition allegations

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

On December 3, David Barron of Lake Forest, California, wrote a letter to election officials in which he said that he was paid $1 cash for each signature collected in support of the Lance MacLean recall of Mission Viejo Councilman Lance MacLean. Relevent laws have been interpreted to require that anyone who collects signatures on recall petitions must be a resident of the political subdivision from which a politician is being recalled.[18]

An official handbook, the California Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials handbook, said, "The recall petition can be circulated only by registered voters in the jurisdiction who are qualified to vote for the officer sought to be recalled."

Recall advocate Connie Lee responded, "The bottom line is he couldn't get any signatures, he was fired and I don't know, 10 months later, wants to say the process was tainted."[18]

14,000 signatures were submitted for the recall. 9,400 valid signatures were required.

The Orange County district attorney's office was asked to investigate charges that some of the people who collected signatures on the recall petitions did not live in Mission Viejo, and thereby violated a state law.[13] A federal judge invalidated a similar law for recall petitions in Michigan in 2009, and a California judge invalidated a residency requirement in 2008 for signatures on initiative petitions.

  • In Bogaert v. Land, a federal judge ruled in 2009 that a state law in Michigan requiring circulators of recall petitions to live in the recall target's political jurisdiction violated the U.S. Constitution.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Orange County Register, "Recall subject becomes mayor," December 7, 2009
  2. Orange Juice Blog, "Mission Viejo MacLean RECALL election press release & calendar," September 27, 2009
  3. Red County, "Slow going for MacLean recall," May 4, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wave Newspapers, "Attempt to recall Mission Viejo mayor finishes ahead," February 3, 2010
  5. San Francisco Chronicle, "Mission Viejo recalls mayor by only 19 vote," February 3, 2010
  6. Orange County election results (dead link)
  7. Orange County Register, "MacLean calls off recount," February 10, 2010
  8. OC Weekly, "Lance MacLean has learned that Mission Viejo's political players always go for the throat," March 4, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mission Viejo Watchdog, "Recall update"
  10. OC Weekly, "Saddleback Republicans to MacLean: Resign Now!," February 20, 2009
  11. 11.0 11.1 Orange County Register, "Recall tensions boil over at City Council meeting," October 5, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Orange County Register, "Behind the recall election: A point-counterpoint," January 15, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 Orange County Weekly, "Why Is Mission Viejo Mayor Lance MacLean Feeling Better About Election Day?," January 13, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 Orange County Register, "Candidate goes viral in Mission Viejo," January 27, 2010
  15. Orange Juice Blog, "13,915 petition signatures to RECALL MV councilman Lance MacLean delivered one day early," August 24, 2009
  16. Orange County Register, "Mission Viejo recall signatures are submitted," August 26, 2009
  17. OC Weekly, "Lance MacLean and the Slums of Mission Viejo," March 25, 2009
  18. 18.0 18.1 Orange County Register, "Mission Viejo recall worker alleges violation," December 9, 2009