Yolanda Teneyuque and John Martinez recall, Greenfield, California (2012)
The recall effort was supported by a group called Reunify Greenfield. Reunify Greenfield spearheaded the recalls and supported a referendum to overturn a vote by the city council to merge Greenfield's police department with the Soledad Police Department. If the two police departments are merged, it is thought to be likely that Soledad's police chief Eric Sills would take on the top leadership role in the merged department, and that current Greenfield Police Chief Joe Grebmeier would be out of a job.
The Soledad City Council voted 5-0 to enter into an agreement that would merge the two police departments. The Greenfield City Council approved the police merger by a 3-2 vote. The merger has been put on hold after Greenfield residents collected hundreds of signatures asking for the merger to be put up to a public vote. Referendum supporters submitted 550 signatures, according to Greenfield's interim City Manager Brent Slama. 400 valid signatures are required. If the signatures are certified, the police merger referendum could be put on a regular or special election ballot.
Avelina Torres was a leader of "Reunify Greenfield" and a key supporter of Grebmeier.
Torres attended a city council meeting in early summer 2011. Some city council members discussed Grebmeier, and Torres said: "...they were making awful accusations. I was shocked. I couldn't believe people could go and just say anything they wanted, making up lies and getting away with it." Torres identified Yolanda Teneyuque and John Martinez as the key leaders in the effort to get rid of Grebmeier, and that is why Torres is targeting Teneyuque and Martinez for recall: "What these two council members have done is (mount) a personal vendetta. Had our police chief done something wrong, we would be the first in line to ask for him to leave."
Grebemeir was criticized from some quarters because when he took over the department, he initiated meetings to teach indigenous migrants, primarily Oaxacans, about U.S. laws. The meetings were ended in 2010 under pressure from the city council. He remained on leave until announcing his retirement, effective April 13th, 2012.
Path to the ballot
978 signatures of registered Greenfield voters needed to be collected for each recall target in a 60-day window from the time that the petition text is approved, in order for the recall effort to succeed in forcing a vote. In November 2011, recall supporters submitted 1,231 signatures to recall Teneyuque and 1,227 to recall Martinez. If enough signatures are validated, the city council will call for a recall election within 88 to 125 days.
In December 2011, 1,046 signatures turned in for Martinez were validated while 1,055 signatures submitted on the Teneyuque recall petition were validated. The City Council had 14 days to schedule a recall election to take place within 88 to 125 days. The recall election was scheduled for June 5th, 2012.
Agapito Vazquez and James Kilgore sought to fill Tenyuque's seat in the event of a recall. Drew Tipton and Yvette Gonzalez sought Martinz's seat in the event of a recall. Vazquez and Gonzalez won the right to replace Teneyuque and Martinez.
- The Herald, "Greenfield recall effort moves ahead," December 31, 2011
- Monterey County Elections, "June 5, 2012 Results," June 5, 2012
- KION Right Now, "Greenfield Council Members Served With Recall Notices," July 27, 2011
- The Californian, "Greenfield police merger to see resistance," September 16, 2011
- The Californian, "Soledad City Council approves police merger," October 6, 2011
- Monterey Herald, "Push for public vote delays Greenfield, Soledad police merger," October 14, 2011
- Monterey Herald, "Greenfield recall effort kicks off," September 17, 2011
- Monterey County Herald, "Greenfield police chief retires ," February 24, 2012
- The Californian, "Greenfield recall effort qualifies for the ballot," December 28, 2011
- Greenfield Website, "Special City Council Meeting," February 6, 2012
- The Californian, "Greenfield voters to decide 3 recall elections," May 8, 2012