Commerce City Council recall, California (2014)

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An effort to recall several city council members from their positions on the City Council of Commerce in California was launched in August 2013.[1] Robles was served with a petition in October 2013, after Altamirano, Baca Del Rio and Leon.[2]

A group calling itself Commerce Residents for Better Government spearheaded the recall against Ivan Altamirano, Tina Baca Del Rio and Leila Leon. A man named Shawn Thomas, who cited no affiliation with the aforementioned group, coordinated the recall effort against Denise Robles. The effort to recall Altamirano, Baca Del Rio and Leon was abandoned after the city attorney ruled that the newspaper the city had been publishing its public notices in for the past twenty years did not qualify as a "newspaper of general circulation as required by state election law." As a result, the recall campaign was invalidated.[3]

The legality of the recall against Robles was called into question in December 2013 after it was revealed that Thomas was not a resident of the city.[4]


The recall effort against three of the four councilmembers was led by a group of residents who believed the city council had been ineffective for the city.[1][5] Petitions against Baca Del Rio, Altamirano and Leon alleged that they raised taxes in the last election and voted to give a city employee a raise for running their re-election campaigns. Additionally, they noted that the three council members "cannot be trusted to be fair and independent."[2]

Supporters of the recall effort against Robles alleged that: "Robles has put our children in danger by allowing a convicted sex offender to live with her family in Commerce;” she “took a City car without permission to school. She knew it was illegal but did it because she did not want to pay for gas;” “Robles voted NO to helping fund the City’s Crush Volleyball program, which helps our girls get scholarships and go to college. When other Councilmembers voted YES, she got mad and began to stalk and threaten them.”[2]

In December 2013, it was revealed that Thomas, the person who coordinated the recall effort against Robles, lived outside of the industrial residential community and, furthermore, was not registered to vote. This called into question the legality of the recall effort.[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in California

Recall supporters gave Altamirano and Baca Del Rio notices of intent to recall at a city council meeting on August 20, 2013. Leon was given notice the following day at city hall.[1] Robles was served with a petition in October 2013.

Petitions for Altamirano and Baca Del Rio were returned to recall supporters on October 4 for revisions. Supporters had 10 days to make the suggested revisions, which included spelling and grammar edits.[7]

In mid-February 2014, it was reported that recall petitions against Mayor Joe Aguilar, Leon, Baca Del Rio and Altamirano were still being circulated, leaving Robles as the only city council member who was not being targeted for recall.[8]

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