Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Year in Recalls: The big flop -- 609 attempts, 66 to the ballot; first year that more elections resulted in officials surviving the vote than being removed

In many ways, 2021 was the year of recall elections throughout the country, though not for the reasons that many may think. The California Gubernatorial recall was one of the big political stories of the year, but the many recalls against school board members were also in the news. But we saw some surprising developments as I discuss in this op-ed in The Hill

This year saw the most recalls attempted since this blog started in 2011 -- at least 609 attempts. But unlike most years, when the recall gets to the ballot about one-quarter to one-third of the time, this year, most of the recalls went nowhere. Only 66 went to the ballot and 17 others resigned. 

Even more unusual, for the first time more officials survived the vote than lost. Most recalls result in removal -- about 60% of the time (plus 6% resignations). This year, 40 officials survived the vote and only 26 were removed. 

What explains this odd result? COVID and the laws designed to stop its spread. Most of the school board recalls were over COVID precautions. But few of them got to the ballot. And those that did failed. Only one of the apparently COVID-focused recalls (in Dodge County, Wisconsin) resulted in removal. 

This actually fits well with the goals of the recall. The pandemic resulted in arguably the most extensive changes for every citizen's lives in US history. It's no surprise that there would be a political impact. But the results, as can be seen by both the failure to get signatures and failure to actually win elections, maybe viewed as effectively an endorsement of the restrictions. 

As a comparison, 2020 saw 42 removals, 24 survived and 14 resignations, with 434 attempts. In 2019, 87 officials faced a recall vote (37 removals, 16 resignations, 34 survived). In 2018 (which I never published) saw 150 recalls make the ballot or lead to a resignation, with 85 removals, 28 resignations and 37 survivals. In 2017, we had 102 recalls, 2016, we have 119 recalls. In 2015, there were 109; 2014 (which, I never actually wrote up), 126 recalls. In 2013, we had 107 recalls2012 we had 166, and a 2011 we had 151 (the numbers do not always exactly match up to the links – I checked back and found additional recalls and removed a few). 19 States saw recall votes or resignations this year. I generally do not count the Native American tribal chair and trustee recalls in my compilation (unfortunately, they are very difficult to track).  I also do not count home owners associations, unions or college governments. There were also noteworthy recalls globally, especially in Taiwan and Japan, but they are also not included. 

The COVID recalls are tapering off, but we have plenty more awaiting us. Not only will the San Francisco District Attorney and San Francisco School Board have recalls, there are others as well. January 11 will see recalls in both Leyton and Waverly, Nebraska. 

Michigan: Recall effort against one Mount Pleasant Board member fails

The recall effort against Mount Pleasant Board member Wiline Pangle has failed, with petitioners saying that they won't be turning in the 3200 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

There is still a recall effort ongoing against President Amy Bond and Board member Courtney Stegman after voting for a mask mandate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Petitioners need more than 3,000 signatures. Isabella County, where the school is located, has the lowest vaccination rate in Mid-Michigan.

Update: The recall against Bond and Stegman has also failed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Oregon: Petitions taken out against Estacada City Councilor

Estacada City Councilor Katy Dunsmuir is facing a recall effort, seemingly over her support for a proposal to purchase a motel and convert it to housing. Petitioners need 214 signatures by February 28.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Ohio: Celina Council recall rejected by board due to lack of recall law

The Mercer County Board of Elections rejected petitions for the recall of Celina Councilmembers June Scott, Mike Sovinski, Myron Buxton and Eric Lochtefeld over their opposition to a bill declaring "Celina a 'Sanctuary City for the Unborn." Celina does not have a recall law in its charter, leading to tossing out the recall attempt.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Michigan: Fake signature causes issue in Davison School Board Member recall

One of the opponents of the Davison School Board Member Matthew Smith Jr. recall has been accused of signing a fake name to a petition, which was discovered after his wife bragged about it on Facebook. The fake signature is a violation of Michigan law.

Smith is charged with malicious use of telecommunication services (he is accused of harassing the Houghton County Clerk by calling her and threatening to kill her dogs). 

Smith is also the chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party.

Michigan: Lee Township Trustee and Supervisor facing petitions; Positive COVID test halts petition language meeting

Lee Township Supervisor Kristy Gustafson and Trustee Darla Rippee are facing recall petitions over the closure of the town dump. Rippee attended the meeting on the petition language and was found to have an active case of COVID, ending the meeting 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Mexico: President pushing for recall vote in Spring

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is once again pushing for a recall vote against him in April, with the board requiring 2.85 million signatures. The board has delayed the recall, which he is unhappy about. AMLO has long suggested that regular recalls are a good idea and previously suggested that a recall should be held on March 21, 2021(half-way through his term).

Wisconsin: Recall threats target Milwaukee County District Attorney

Petitioners are talking about targeting Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm over the low bail do Darrell Brooks, who killed six people, running them over in a Waukesha Christmas Parade. It's not clear if petitions have been taken out.

Michigan: Department of State punts on campaign finance issue with recall law

Here -- the board has not ruled on whether Governor Gretchen Whitmer (or future recall targets) can raise unlimited funds in a recall, but they may revisit it in the future. 

Nebraska: Papillion La Vista School Board member recall effort fails

The recall drive against Papillion La Vista Community School Board member Valerie Fisher failed, with petitioners not handing in any signatures. Petitions were taken out against Fisher, seemingly over her support for actions to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. She has been on the board for 22 years and won Nebraska's School Board member of the year award in 2019. Petitioners needed 7229 signatures in 30 days to get on the ballot. The other board members are up for reelection next year.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Arizona: Signatures not handed in for recall of Scottsdale School Board Members

The recall effort against four Scottsdale School Board members, Jann-Michael Greenburg, Julie Cieniawski, Libby Hart-Wells and Patty Beckman, failed, with signatures not handed in. The recall petitions were over their votes in favor of masking mandates to protect children from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as claims about critical race theory. Petitioners needed 20,935 by December 18 to get on the ballot.

Petitioners have also called for Greenburg to resign after he has been accused (by them) of having a google drive with information about some of the parents leading the recall effort. It sounds like Greenburg is no longer a chairman, but still a board member.

Nebraska: Alvo schedules recall vote for February 15

A recall vote has been scheduled against Alvo Board Members Larry Langer and Robin LaPage on February 15 Previously a lawsuit was filed against Alvo after the town board voted 5-0 against scheduling the election and a judge order the recall to be scheduled or the board to be held in contempt. The recall seems to be over a tire scrapeyard, which was previously owned by Langer.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Maryland: Claims of growing support for Baltimore Mayor recall

Don't see too many polls specifically called "unscientific" by their backers... Anyway, new talk of recalling Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott

California: Lawsuit seeks to stop SF Election Guide claim that the SF Democratic Party opposes School Board recalls

 A lawsuit is seeking to have the San Francisco Election Guide for the School Board recalls remove a claim that the SF Democratic Party opposes the recall. Check it out for the complicated details, which is based on a resolution in May opposing the recall efforts, though it seemed to be about the Governor Gavin Newsom recall more than anything else.

California: Petitions taken out against five Nevada County Supervisors

Petitions have been taken out against five Nevada County Board of Supervisors, Dan Miller, Hardy Bullock, Heidi Hall, Ed Scofield and Susan Hoek over votes to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There is also a complaint about using drones to inspect property. Petitioners need between 2600-3200 signatures per supervisor.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

California: A look at who's funding the SF DA recall effort

Mission Local provides a look at the funding for the San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin recall effort. 

Oregon: Newberg School Board member recall makes the ballot

The recall against Newberg School Board member Brian Shannon has gotten on the ballot. There is also an effort against School Board member Dave Brown. The recall was over a vote to fire the Superintendent and a vote to ban political flags (such as LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter). Petitioners needed over 2500 valids, they gave in over 4000, and got about 3300.

Michigan: Scio Supervisor resigns in face of recall petition

Scio Township Supervisor Jane Vogel is resigning in the face of an approved recall petition. Vogel said the resignation is about "professional and family priorities." There is still a recall effort against Township Supervisor Will Hathaway. Petitioners need 2439 signatures to get each of the officials on the ballot. The recall seems to be about a vote to double Hathaway's salary. There was also a recall effort against Trustees Alec Jerome, though no word on what happened to that one.

Wisconsin: Butternut School Board President survives recall vote

Butternut School District Board President Gary Mertig survived a recall vote, 161-139 over Nate Prtizl. The recall appeared to be about Mertig's vote to combat the coronavirus pandemic by approving a mask mandate. Mertig has been on the board for 31 years.

Washington: Seattle City Councilmember survives recall

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant survived her recall vote, 20,346-20,656.

Sawant is the first socialist elected to Seattle's council in 100 years. There's been quite a number of twists and turns to this one. The recall is over Sawant's conduct during the Seattle riots and her failing to comply with public disclosure requirements after she led protestors to the Mayor's house.

Nebraska: Saunders County Board Chair kicked out

Saunders County Board Chair Doris Karloff has been kicked out, 712-271. It seems that the recall was over a vote in favor of a solar farm. Karloff's son went into contract with the company launching the solar farm, though Karloff abstained from any vote. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Hawaii: Petitioners 20K+ signatures short of a Maui Mayor recall

Petitioners are quite far away from a recall effort against Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. They need 21586 signatures. They handed in 3211 signatures, and only 1564 were deemed valid. They do have 20 days to hand in the other 20,022 signatures to get on the ballot. The recall is over Victorino's support for measures designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners have also claimed some other issues (water needs/housing/transparency), but the story suggests that it is clearly a COVID recall. 

I do not know of a single recall that has gotten to the ballot in Hawaii. 

California: Shasta County Supervisor replacement race shaping up

Happy Valley Union School Board President Tim Garman seems to be in the lead in terms of earning endorsements in the replacement race for the recall of Shasta County Supervisor Leonard Moty has gotten to the ballot. Garman has received endorsements from the State of Jefferson movement, which wants to create a separate state in Northern California.

The recall is over Moty's support for restrictions to fight the Covid pandemic.

California: Recall effort launched against San Diego County Supervisor

San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer (D) is facing a recall effort, seemingly over her support for efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Petitioners need over 40,000 signatures by May 12. 

Louisiana: Richwood Mayor Survives Recall Vote

Richwood Mayor Gerald Brown survived a recall vote, 101-153. 

Petitioners handed in 462 valid signatures, so turnout was much lower.

Brown blames supporters of the previous Mayor Ed Harris for the recall, as well as Aldermen Wysinger Cleveland, Wilbert Reed Jr. and Alderwoman Leola Keys. Harris was apparently banned from holding office due to malfeasance. He is now once again eligible. The claims were general complaints over public safety, economic development and management issues.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Kansas: Labette County Commissioner ousted in recall vote over windfarm

It appears that Labette County Commissioner Brian Kinzie has lost his recall election, 831-580. The recall is over his support for a windfarm. Kansas is a Malfeasance Standard state, so the recall was over complaints of open meeting act violations.

Washington: Seattle City Councilmember Sawant recall about tied, but outstanding vote thought to be in her favor

The recall vote against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is going to a second overtime, with the early numbers tied (the recall is up by 246 votes with over 39000 counted). All of the commentators seem to suggest that the later votes are expected to break for Sawant, so it sounds like she may survive. Turnout is higher than the November mayoral elections. 

Sawant is the first socialist elected to Seattle's council in 100 years. There's been quite a number of twists and turns to this one. The recall is over Sawant's conduct during the Seattle riots and her failing to comply with public disclosure requirements after she led protestors to the Mayor's house.

California: New attempt on Los Angeles District Attorney recall

The murder of Jacqueline Avant, the wife of a famed music executive, by a parolee, seems to have helped give a push to a new effort to a recall of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. Gascon has faced recall efforts led by victims' rights groups and others over Gascon's criminal justice reform plans, including freeing bail; ending cash bail and other efforts. A previous effort failed to get 579,062 signatures.

California: 2nd hearing on proposed recall law


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

California: Petitions taken out against Antioch Mayor; City Clerk may face effort as well

Petitions have been taken out against Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. Petitioners need 9511 signatures by May 11. There is also a recall effort against City Clerk Ellie Householder, who rejected petitions against Thorpe submitted on September 24.  The issue seems to be the resignation of the Police Chief and the retirement of the City Manager.

Michigan: Genesee County Commissioner facing recall efforts

A new recall attempt is going after Genesee County Commissioner Gary Peppin (D). An earlier attempt to get a recall against Commissioners Peppin, Mark Young and Ellen Ellenburg was rejected due to clarity/factualness considerations. Peppin is being accused of lack of representation after missing 41 meetings due to surgeries. However, the recall is about votes in favor of masking and vaccination efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There's also complaints about flying an LGBT flag and not a thin blue line one. 

Michigan: Signature collection started against three Alma commissioners

Signatures collections  have begun in the recall efforts against Alma Vice Mayor Roxann Herrington and Commissioners Nick Piccolo and Audra Stahl, It took numerous recall petitions before approval as a judge overturned an Election Commission ruling approving holding that the language was not factually accurate (and the Election Commission rejected another). The recall is over a vote that will allow a former nursing home to be converted into a temporary shelter for young male refugees. 

Petitioners will need 745 signatures in 60 days.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Wisconsin: Butternut School Board member facing recall


Ballotpedia has a bit more detail on this one, including a December 16 recall date. Nate Prtizl is running against him. Petitioners got 130 signatures and needed 126. 

I'm actually not sure what's happening here, as the only story I've seen is a letter to the editor from the target. Butternut School District Board President Gary Mertig is facing a possible recall vote on December 14, though I'm not sure if that's when the recall petitions would be approved. Mertig claims that the recall is about the board's vote to combat the coronavirus pandemic by approving a mask mandate. Based on everything we know about recalls against school board members this year, this is undoubtedly correct. 

California: Livingston Mayor and two councilmembers facing petitions

Signatures have been submitted for the recall effort against Livingston Mayor Juan Aguilar, Mayor Pro-Tem Raul Garcia and Councilmembers Maria Soto and Gagandeep Kang. Petitioners need 1483 signatures to get on the ballot. They handed in 1834 for Aguilar, 1809 for Garcia, 1832 for Soto and 1828 for Kang. It is not clear what the recall is about, though Kang was accused of misconduct for crude comments in January and the City Manager and Police Chief have been removed. 

Update: The petitions failed, with not enough signatures handed in.

Michigan: Petition language approved against Michigamme Township Supervisor

Petition language has been approved in a recall effort against Michigamme Township Supervisor William Seppanen. The issue is a vote to move a gazebo in alleged "reprisal against people who were opposed to giving part of a lake frontage right of way to a private property owner."

Virginia: Frederick County Supervisor facing recall effort

Frederick County Supervisor Shawn Graber is facing a recall effort after allegedly harassing someone on election day. He then allegedly lied about his interaction with the sheriff's deputy. No word on how many signatures they would need. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Taiwan: Legislator facing January 9 recall vote

Taiwan Independent Legislator Freddy Lim, the former lead vocalist for heavy-metal band Chtonic, is facing a recall vote on January 9, 2022 over what seems to be a debate of who was to blame for a Covid outbreak. Petitioners handed in 38,286 signatures and got 27,362 valids. They needed 24,475.

Lim was previously part of the New Power Party and an activist for independence. This may be part of the wave of recalls hitting Taiwan.

California: Signatures in Los Angeles Councilmember head to verification stage

The verification process of the recall of Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin has begun, as petitioners handed in 39,188 signatures for the recall against  Petitioners 27,317 signatures.

This recall attempt is supposedly over the homeless issues, though petitioners were previously talking about his support for the shutdowns to prevent further damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Two other councilmembers faced recall attempts, though both failed to get the signatures.

Bonin previously faced a recall effort in 2017-2018 over his road diet plan -- the DOT's removal of 9.4 miles of traffic lanes to prevent pedestrian deaths. 

Bonin is up for re-election in December, with a primary in June. If the recall got on the ballot, the vote would likely take place in April or May, though that would not effect the re-election vote in June. Bonin won his 2017 re-election run with 71% of the vote.

The last recall in Los Angeles was Councilman Art Snyder, who survived the vote in 1984. The last one to result in removal was Councilman Meade McClanahan in 1946. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Michigan: Board approved Benton Harbor Mayor petitions

The third recall effort against Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad   has been approved. The first two were rejected due to clarity/factualness hearings. Recent findings that there is lead in the water pipes, preventing residents from using them. Petitioners need 456 signatures. Muhammad won the office over Mayor James Hightower, who was the target of recall petitions (from a petitioner who later went to jail for fraud in the signature gathering process).

Colorado: Boulder Valley School Board recall fails

The recall effort against School Board VP Kathy Gebhardt and members Richard Garcia and Lisa Sweeney-Miran over the support for measures to battle the COVID pandemic has failed. Petitioners needed around 15,000 signatures. 

Maine: Two Kennebunk School Board members targeted

Petitions have been taken out against Kennebunk School Board Chair Arthur LeBlanc and Board Member Timothy Stentiford over a recent teacher contract and claims of bullying. Former board member Norman Archer is one of the leaders of the recall effort. Petitioners need 669 signatures in 30 days. 

Florida: Deltona City Commissioner facing recall effort

Deltona City Commissioner Loren King is facing a recall effort over his former membership in the Oath Keepers, one of the groups who led the failed January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. King has said that he hasn't been a member since 2017. Petitioners need at least 1034 signatures in 30 days to get on the ballot for the first stage and then 1551 more signatures in 60 days. There may also be a malfeasance standard in play (though the article lists one for the whole state, which may not be accurate), which means that the recall has to hit a statutorily delineated list of reasons to allow the recall to go forward.

Nebraska: Waverly School Board President recall scheduled for January 11

The recall of Waverly School Board President Andy Grosshans has made the ballot and is scheduled for January 11 (it is a mail-in ballot one). Petitioners got the 88 signatures they needed (notably, Grosshans ran as a write-in candidate, which may have depressed his turnout) Grosshans has actually been on the board since 2008. The recall is over his support for measures to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington: Over $1M raised by both sides in Seattle City Council member recall; Turnout over 28% already

Both sides are estimated to have raised about $1 Million in the recall effort against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. 28% of voters have already turned in their ballots before the December 7 deadline. Sawant is the first socialist elected to Seattle's council in 100 years. There's been quite a number of twists and turns to this one. The recall is over Sawant's conduct during the Seattle riots and her failing to comply with public disclosure requirements after she led protestors to the Mayor's house.