Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Florida: Kenneth City mayor facing petitions

Petitions are out for a recall of Kenneth City Mayor Robert Howell over staff resignations. The lead petitioner is Jeffrey Pfannes, who Howell beat in the 2021 election. Petitioners need 306 signatures. Other elected officials are not eligible for recalls due to grace periods.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Wisconsin: Orfordville Village President facing a solo recall vote after previous president resigned

Orfordville Village Board President Dennis Burtness is facing a recall vote tomorrow, though the signatures were handed in against previous President Gary Phillips. Phillips resigned in the face of a recall election (after signatures were handed in), so Burtness will be on the ballot, though he is the only person running.

The issue seemed to be charges of overreaching into police department matters, which led to the resignation of the police chief. The replacement race will be held on June 28

Ballotpedia Mid-Year Recall Report now out

The invaluable mid-year report from Ballotpedia is out, and they cite 240 officials facing a recall, a drop from the 263 last year. Right now, they have 20 removed, 16 recalls failed and 9 resignations. 

Michigan, which was a recall leader prior to its change in the law in 2012, is back in the game, as the leading state.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Canada: Discussion of recall law for Ontario

There is now discussion to adopt a recall law for Ontario, following sanctions against Hamilton Councillor Terry Whitehead for harassment of staffers as others (the second time he's been penalized). 

California: San Francisco School Board restores merit based system for Lowell High School

Quick impact of the recall, as one of the big issues that pushed the recall has been reversed. 

California: Governor Newsom getting into the national conversation

Once again, winning a recall can be helpful in getting into the national conversation.

Colorado: Loveland debating new disclosure rules for recalls

Loveland is debating its disclosure rules for recall petitions, which would limit petition statements to 200 words, allow a 300 word rebuttal from incumbents and require city clerks to provide a cost estimate (with indirect costs thrown in there) for a recall.

There was a recall effort against Loveland City Council member Don Overcash over his alleged support for developers and votes against motions to discuss potential health impacts ofoil and gas development. Overcash had previously faced a recall effort over an In-N-Out Burger drive-thru and being allegedly hostile to the mayor and two other councilors. No word on what happened with that. 

Kentucky: Recall effort against property taxes in LaRue County

A different type of recall election, as a property tax increase for LaRue County School is facing a recall effort. Over 725 valid signatures were handed in for the effort. 

UK: Conservative MP facing inquiry, may lead to recall effort

UK MP David Marburton (Conservative) is facing an inquiry over claims of sexual harassment and cocaine use (as well as an undisclosed loan). If Marburton is suspended for 10 or more sitting days, than a recall can be started (with 10% of signatures).

Friday, June 24, 2022

Colorado: Recall against 12th Judicial District Attorney (Alamosa/San Luis County) makes the ballot

The recall against Alamosa/12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne has gotten to the ballot. Petitioners handed in 5974 signatures, with 4757 being declared valid. They needed 3996. An election date will be set in the future.

The recall effort is over complaints of being soft on crime (not pursuing charges on large drug busts and not following up with crime victims on plea deals, as required by law), so a bit along the lines of the Boudin/Gascon recall efforts in California. The petitions were taken out by Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

California: Proposed recall "reform" ballot measures floundering in state legislature

The San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko provides a look at the proposed ballot measures to revamp or neuter recall laws and see that they seem to be going nowhere. 

The measure sponsored by State Senator Josh Newman would remove special elections (unless it is in the first 14 months of a term) and create an automatic replacement model for the governor and other officials (with the governor appointing lower level successors).

A second measure, by Senator Ben Allen, would allow the official to run in the replacement race (which we've seen in Massachusetts).  

The Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Steve Bennett which only targets local jurisdictions and would allow local laws to govern the replacement choice (appointment or special elections). Places with their own charter (like SF) would not be hit by this law (which still must pass the Senate).

Update: Los Angeles Times' Mark Barabak has another take on the proposed changes.

California: Los Angeles District Attorney signature total tops 566,857 needed to get to the ballot

Petitioners now claim to have more than 566,857 signatures to get the recall of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon. This is what is needed to get on the ballot (though, as I've mentioned, they need many more signatures than that). They have until July 6 to get the signatures in. Petitioners are apparently paying $8 per signature and are shooting for 650-700K -- they will likely need the higher amount to hope to get on the ballot (though I'm now wondering how the random sampling changes the odds).

I've talked about some of the issues in the LA Times as well.

California: More on the Boudin recall

So much more out on the SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin recall, including the fact that the vote total has shrunk to 55% against. Prop. C is close to 58% no (and more people voted against that than against Boudin). Neither totals are expected to change the final result of Boudin being ousted.  

Here's a Law360 article looking at the legal impact, and article on the role of Asian voters in the ouster of Boudin and the school board members and what it could be mean for other prosecutors around the country.

New York: GOP proposed Constitutional Amendment for recall of District Attorneys

Republican legislators proposed a Constitutional Amendment to allow recalls of district attorneys in New York, which comes off the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. The proposal will not being moving forward. 

Illinois: Circuit Court Judge rules against Dolton Mayor recall effort; Holds that Clerk must not count votes in June 28 recall election

A Cook County Circuit Court Judge has ruled in favor of efforts to stop the recall election against Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard, which is set for a June 28 recall vote. The judge has ordered the clerk to not count the vote (early voting started on July 13) in two recall ballot measures (one asks for a recall law, the other calls for Henyard to face a recall vote immediately). The issue seems to be that the measures are taking place at the same time, which is extremely odd.

The recall does not seem to have signatures handed in, but was rather put on the ballot by the village board. 

Henyard faced a previous recall effort when she served as trustee, leading to an appellate court decision that the board cannot remove the official by a board vote but can have a recall. 

The recall is over a slew of complaints: taking a Township Supervisor job that pays $250,000 which seen as a conflict of interest; keeping the board from meeting, paying bills and refusing to show what is being paid, as well as hiring a code enforcement officer who spent 24 years in prison for kidnapping and sexual assault. 

Virginia: Portsmouth Council members facing petitions

Portsmouth Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes and Councilmember Mark Whitaker are facing petitions over a vote to fire the city manager and replace her with the former police chief.

It looks like the petitioners need 4510 signatures (10% of turnout) to get on the ballot.

Colorado: Woodland Park School Board members facing petitions

Woodland Park RE-2 School Board President David Rusterholtz, Vice President David Illingworth II and Director Suzanne Patterson are facing petitions over complaints about approving a charter for a new Academy in the district. The claims include violations of open meeting laws. 

Petitioners need about 3000 signatures each by the end of July. 

Washington: Lewis County Republican Chairman facing petitions

Lewis County Republican Chairman Brandon Svenson (who is the Mayor of Winlock) is facing a recall vote on July 11. Party leadership had previously called for Svenson's resignation. Svenson wore a T-Shirt for Lewis County Sheriff's Rob Snaza's re-election while arguing with another candidate for the position. Petitioners need a majority of the vote, but most also have a quorum of 40% of committee officers.

Michigan: White Pigeon Village President facing petitions

Petitions have been taken out against White Pigeon Village President Tyler Royce, with the petitions passing the factual/clarity test and being approved by the Electoral Commission. The issue is claims that Royce used municipal equipment and employees for personal work (something called a "Ditch Witch"). Royce's supporters claim that the item was rented from the county for $100. 

Petitioners need 108 signatures in 60 days.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Wisconsin: Morgan Town Board Recall set July 12

The recall of Morgan Town Board Chair Fran Wranosky and Supervisor Leonard Wahl over a proposed solar power facility is scheduled for July 12. If multiple candidates run, the recall will be a primary, with a final election held on August 9 (the regular election primary date). Both have been on the board for over a decade.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

California: San Francisco District Attorney Loses in Blowout; Prop C also fails overwhelmingly

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin lost his recall election, with the latest results showing him down by 59.5%-40.5% on Proposition H (this number will change a bit). Note that 137,000 votes were cast, which was more than for Governor in the city. I should be writing more on the question of pushback against Progressive Prosecutors. Boudin will be replaced by appointment, with a special election held in November to fill the remainder of the term.

Proposition C also failed, with 60.13% against it. I've said quite a bit on this,

Virginia: Judge tosses out recalls against Loudon School Board members

Petitions against Loudon School Board members Atoosa Reeser and Brenda Sheridan was rejected by a judge, ruling that the petitions did not meet the malfeasance standard/judicial recall standard based on a finding by a special prosecutor. If this got through, it would probably have required a trial under the state's unique Recall Trial law (though this may be it). The actual complaint seems to be an open meeting violation (the group joining a separate Facebook group). 

Apparently, an attorney for the petitioners threatened a recall against the Commonwealth attorneys during the case.

Signatures were handed in against Loudon School Board Member Brenda Sheridan. They handed in 1850 and need 803. 

There were attempts against Sheridan, Reeser, Beth Barts, Leslee King, Denise Corbo and Ian Serotkin, though King has since died and Barts resigned on November 2 after petitioners handed in signatures. Sheridan needed the smallest number of signatures of any of the members. The recall effort was supposed to be over complaints about alleged inappropriate reading materials in the school. The petitioners claim they are fighting against "Critical Race Theory." The recall petitions seem to have been focused on complaining about school closing to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Loudon has faced discussions about recalls in recent years as Virginia is one of the most prominent states to move politically. Last year, Loudon County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall  is facing recall threats from the Young Republicans over her participation in a recent rally against police violence. The Young Republicans statement includes a reference to a violation of the 14th Amendment. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

California: Key historical facts on the San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin Recall Election

Next Tuesday, we will see two major recall votes -- the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Proposition C, which looks to radically cutback (if not effectively kill) the recall in the future.

Hopefully, I'll have a full look at this recall on Tuesday, but in the meantime, here's some facts and details to consider:

1. This is the second recall to got to a vote of a District Attorney in San Francisco history. The first was in 1917 against D.A. Charles Fickert over his prosecution of Tom Mooney over the bombing of the San Francisco Preparedness Parade (as well as other complaints about anti-labor behavior and underworld support). Fickert easily won the election (which was basically a new race) 46,451-20,394-1721.  Fickert is a fascinating character in California history, who beat Francis Heney in 1909, but lost a gubernatorial primary race in 1918.

2. San Francisco may seem like a recall haven, but this may be only the 11th in the city (and importantly, county) history. The others, were the three school board members in 2022, Mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1983, Mayor Roger Lapham in 1946, Judges John Sullivan and Morris Oppenheim in 1921, Fickert in 1917, State Senator E.E. Grant in 1914 and Police Judge Charles Weller in 1913. All but Feinstein and Lapham lost their votes.

3. This would be the second recall of a District Attorney in California in two years, as the Sonoma County DA survived a vote on September 14. That may have been the first recall of a District Attorney in California since 2001 (in Marin County).

4. District Attorney recalls are quite unusual. Until the Sonoma County D.A., I counted only four recalls against attorney positions in 10 years (with one other official resigning). The only one that took place in California was in 2013 against San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman. Penman, who represented the city but did not try criminal cases like a District Attorney, lost the vote. 

5. One book that looks at recalls in California until 1930 mentions notes that there was only one District Attorney recall that led to an ouster up to that point, the Kern County D.A. in 1917. 

6. There may be another D.A. recall in Colorado, as signatures were just handed in. 

I looked at the recall of District Attorneys in some more depth in this piece in the Recorder and why there are so few D.A. recalls in the US. Notably, there are fewer District Attorneys, usually only one per jurisdiction, as opposed to the multi-member city councils and other legislative bodies. District Attorneys usually faced less controversy and were more the crusading "tough on crime" types. But since the 2017 Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner election, there has been a change in who has run for the office. The Boudin recall (and the attempt against Los Angeles D.A. George Gascon) appears to be a reaction to this success. I was (and still may) write more on this, though the always-excellent Governing Magazine's Alan Greenblatt has a great look at this. 

As for this recall, petitioners handing over 83,484 signatures and needed 51,325 valids. There was no word on how many signatures were valid (they used a statistical sampling method of 4174 signatures and found that it would meet the requirement). There is no replacement race. The mayor would select any replacement. 

The recall (San Franciscans for Public Safety) is led by local Democrats Mary Jung (the former chair of the local Democratic Party) and Andrea Shorter. The pro-recall side has raised about $1.6 million, while the anti-recall forces have raised about $800,000.

A first recall effort against Boudin failed, with petitioners claiming that they were1714 signatures short (though that is before verification, so it could be a lot less).

This first recall was led by former Republican Mayoral candidate Richie Greenberg (though Greenberg said he was replaced as head of the effort). It was considered the "Republican" recall. The recall is over complaints over lenient treatment of criminals. Recall efforts kicked into high gear after a convict who was arrested on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and violating probation was released without bail and then ran over two women while running a red light. 

Colorado: Signatures handed in against 12th Judicial District Attorney (Alamosa/San Luis County)

Petitioners have handed in 5924 signatures seeking the recall of Alamosa/12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne. Petitioners need 3996 valids to get on the ballot.

The recall effort is over complaints of being soft on crime. The Secretary of State is reviewing grounds for the recall, The petitions were taken out by Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman. 

Here's some further complaints.

California: Nevada County Supervisors recall fails

The recall effort against Nevada County Supervisors Dan Miller, Hardy Bullock, Heidi Hall, Ed Scofield and Susan Hoek failed, with petitioners not handing in any signatures. 

Petitions were taken out  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. During the recall, petitioners allegedly forced themselves into the clerk's office, resulting in a temporary closure. The petitioners refused to follow the mask mandate designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the lead petitioners is running against Hoek in her reelection race. 

California: Willows Mayor/Council Recall Effort Fails

The effort against Willows Mayor Larry Domenighini, Vice Mayor Garry Hansen and Councilmember Kerri Warren has failed, with petitioners failing to hand in any signatures (they claim to have 700 and needed 768 per). The recall efforts was over a sewer rate increase on multi-family units and complaints about spending. 

Minnesota: Two Harbors Mayor recall scheduled for August 9

The recall election of Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson has been scheduled on August 9 (Primary Day), with Swanson saying that he will not resign. Petitioners handed in 618 signatures and have 532 valids, they needed 498. 

Petitioners previously gathered signatures, claiming they had 970 signatures for the recall, but they pulled those petitions over a lawsuit that would have removed the anonymity for any signers. The suit sought to require the signatures be revealed. 

The recall is seemingly over claims that Swanson used a podcast to discuss an underwater hotel in Lake Superior, thereby using his title as mayor to attract investors, and plans to fund city projects with cryptocurrency. 

There is a separate suit by a Republican County official asking the recall to be tossed out over Minnesota's strict malfeasance standard/judicial recall rules, which has led nearly all petitions (but one!) that I've seen have been rejected at that stage. The City Attorney wrote an opinion that he used the position for personal benefit, which could allow them to overcome the malfeasance standard. Interesting provision in the charter -- if there are less than two years in the term, the council appoints a replacement. If there are more, than there is a special election. In this case, there will be a replacement appointed.

Update: A district court judge has thrown out an attempt to toss the recall.