San Bernardino recall, California (2013)
An effort to recall the Mayor, City Attorney and City Council of San Bernardino, California was held on November 5, 2013. Specific targets of the recall initially included: Patrick Morris (Mayor), James F. Penman (City Attorney), Virginia Marquez (City Council 1st Ward), Robert Jenkins (City Council 2nd Ward), John Valdivia (City Council 3rd Ward), Fred Shorett (City Council 4th Ward), Chas A. Kelley (City Council 5th Ward), Rikke Van Johnson (City Council 6th Ward) and Wendy McCammack (City Council 7th Ward). Of those nine seats, all but Chas Kelley and Rikke Van Johnson were slated to be on the ballot. At the time, the effort was one of the largest in terms of the number of officials targeted in recent recall history.
However, the number of officials up for recall dwindled down as time went on. Mayor Patrick Morris did not seek re-election and therefore did not face a recall; not enough signatures were gathered to recall Kelley, and supporters did not turn in a recall petition for Van Johnson. Ultimately, City Attorney James Penman, City Councilmember John Valdivia and City Councilmember Wendy McCammack were the only officials whose names were put on the ballot to be recalled. Penman and McCammack were recalled, and Valdivia was retained.
The following are the results of the November 5, 2013 recall elections:
Though voters recalled McCammack from her position on the city council by a vote of 1,460 to 1,033, they sent her to a runoff for the position of mayor against mayoral candidate Carey Davis. James Mulvihill won the election to replace her on the city council, beating the other contenders Nick Gonzales, Paul Sanborn, Michael Thomas and Joshua Williamson. Real estate attorney Gary Saenz beat Tim Prince and won the position that will be vacated by Jim Penman, who was recalled by a vote of 7,730 to 5,013. John Valdivia retained his seat by a vote of 705 to 426. Chas Kelley's name never ended up on the recall ballot, and he was initially among eleven contenders running to replace Mayor Pat Morris. However, Kelley dropped out of the race after pleading guilty to charges over misuse of campaign funds.
For all election results, see here.
Recall election candidates
Of the three seats that were officially up for recall, the candidates for replacement were as follows:
- Two ran for Penman's seat: Tim Prince and Gary Saenz.
- One ran for Valdivia's seat: Roxanne Williams.
- Five ran for McCammack's seat: Nick Gonzales, James Mulvihill, Paul Sanborn, Michael Thomas and Joshua Williamson.
- Additionally, 11 were running for Mayor, including McCammack.
In July 2012, San Bernardino declared it would file for bankruptcy due to the city's poor financial situation. This created anger among some city residents, who placed blame for the bankruptcy on the city's elected officials.
In August 2012, a recall effort began against Chas Kelley. That effort was specifically aimed at Kelley's vote against putting a repeal of the city's charter on the November 2012 ballot. The effort was withdrawn and combined with a larger effort by Save Our San Bernardino to recall four council members: Chas Kelley, Robert Jenkins, Wendy McCammack, and John Valdivia.
Reasons for recall
The recall effort was led by San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government. They blamed the officials for failing to act on warnings of the city's financial difficulties, which led to the city's bankruptcy filing.
James Penman told reporters that he believed the recall effort was primarily targeted toward him and three council members for their criticism of the mayor. Those council members are Kelley, McCammack and Validivia. Penman said, "They never did want a clean sweep. The only people they’ve actually circulated petitions against are those who have been the strongest critics of Mayor Morris." He also said,"They were misleading the public. They wanted the public to believe they were recalling the entire city government."
Opposition to recall
Groups opposed to the recall effort included:
- The Committee For Integrity In San Bernardino City Government
- The San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce
The San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce said the recall did not make "good business sense." The Committee For Integrity In San Bernardino City Government, led partially by former San Bernardino Mayor Evlyn Wilcox, circulated petitions opposing the recall. The group said the city had fixed its financial problems and was no longer in danger of being insolvent.
Path to the ballot
- See also: Laws governing recall in California
The official submission deadline for petition signatures was August 1, 2013. Recall supporters needed to collect signatures from 15 percent of the city's registered voters to trigger a recall election of the city attorney. They needed to collect signatures from 25 percent of the registered voters in the respective wards of each councilmember in order to recall him or her.
On April 29, 2013 nine notices of intent to recall were sent out to the nine targeted officials by San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government.
Petitions began circulating in June 2013. At the end of June, recall supporters announced they would focus on collecting petition signatures for those officials not set to be on the November ballot: Chas Kelley, Wendy McCammack, James Penman, John Valdivia, and Rikke Van Johnson. They noted at the time that they still intended to turn in all of the petitions, despite the other targeted officials already being on the ballot for regular election. Additionally, Mayor Morris indicated he would not seek another term of office.
On July 17, 2013, recall supporters turned in more than 18,000 signatures for the recall of City Attorney James F. Penman. However, City Clerk Gigi Hanna said she could not accept the signatures because the petition effort did not comply with regulations set out in the city's charter which require, upon request of the targeted official, that the notice of intention to circulate a recall petition, the reasons for the petition, and the response of the targeted official all be published at the same time. Recall supporters said they would take the case to the court. They also said they still intended to turn in the signatures for the mayor and seven city council members.
On July 29, recall supporters filed a claim with the courts demanding that the city clerk accept the petitions. A hearing was set, and on August 22 Superior Court Judge David Cohn ordered Hanna to count the signatures from petitions against Kelley, McCammack, and Penman; Petitions against Valdivia had already been accepted for verification.
By early September seven of the seats originally targeted for recall were declared to be on the November ballot. McCammack, Penman and Valdivia were placed on the ballot for recall after enough signatures were validated by the city clerk's office. Morris' seat was up for regular election, and was opened to any potential candidates after he announced he would not seek re-election. Jenkins', Shorett's and Marquez's seats were up for regular election, as well. Not enough signatures were deemed valid to place Kelley on the ballot, and recall organizers decided not use an additional 30 days allowed by California law to collect more. Signatures against Van Johnson were never turned in, and were said to be short.
Signature collection controversies
There were accusations of deceptive practices used by signature gathers while attempting to collect signatures for the recall effort. For instance, one video reportedly showed a signature gatherer lying about the intent of the petition, claiming it was in support of the targeted official. Both supporters and opponents placed blame on their counterparts for the actions. Supporters said some of the incidents were staged, while opponents said it showed the nature of the recall effort.
- Recall campaigns in California
- Political recall efforts, 2013
- Mayoral recalls
- City council recalls
- Special district recalls
- Laws governing recall in California
- San Bernardino, California
- San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government, "FAQs," accessed: July 23, 2013
- The Sun, "San Bernardino's recall election could make history," July 23, 2013
- The Press-Enterprise, "SAN BERNARDINO: Candidates file for recall election," September 6, 2013
- San Bernardino Sun, "San Bernardino City Attorney James F. Penman recalled from office," November 5, 2013
- The Sun, "San Bernardino City Clerk Gigi Hanna target of recall," May 13, 2013
- The Press Enterprise, "SAN BERNARDINO: McCammack recalled, but leads in mayor's race; Penman also recalled," November 5, 2013
- San Bernardino County Elections Office of the Registrar of Voters, "Consolidated Election: November 5, 2013," accessed December 26, 2013
- The City of San Bernardino, "Chapter 9 Bankruptcy," accessed: July 23, 2013
- The Sun, "Recall against San Bernardino councilman withdrawn, but bigger recall planned," August 22, 2012
- The Press-Enterprise, "SAN BERNARDINO: Recall group narrows focus," July 1, 2013
- sbrecall.org, "Recall Information," accessed: July 23, 2013
- The Sun, "Chamber leaders oppose San Bernardino recall," July 9, 2013
- Barchart.com, "San Bernardino City Clerk Gigi Hanna Asks For Name To Be Removed," July 17, 2013
- sbrecall.org, "What Can I Do," accessed: July 23, 2013
- The Sun, "Recall group submits petitions against Penman, clerk doesn't accept," July 11, 2013
- The Sun, "More clarity on San Bernardino's messy recall attempt," June 28, 2013
- San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government, "Press Room," accessed: July 23, 2013
- The Sun, "San Bernardino recall group stands by strategy," July 7, 2013
- The Sun, "Recall group in San Bernardino goes to court over signatures," July 29, 2013
- The Sun, "Schedule set for hearings in San Bernardino recall court case," August 8, 2013
- The Sun, "Court orders San Bernardino recall petitions counted," August 23, 2013
- The Press-Enterprise, "SAN BERNARDINO: Recall petitions must be accepted, judge says," August 22, 2013
- The Sun, "San Bernardino recall deception? Video shows false statements," July 21, 2013