Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Year in Recalls: Return to Normalcy edition -- 415 attempts, 108 recall actions -- 88 recall elections (52-37 removals), 18 resignations (updated!)

I have an article in Plurbius News on the Year in Recalls, providing the year-end recap. Here's Ballotpedia's look, though they don't seem to have the results.

Recalls seem to be back on the normal track this year after two years of coronavirus-related drop-offs, with 415 (now, I would say 417) attempts. 88 recall elections (I'll explain the discrepancy from the article below). 52 officials were removed and 37 survived. There were 18 resignations. (updated to 52 from 50 with two discovered Nebraska School Board recalls). 

The recalls took place in 21 states, including perhaps the first removal in Minnesota since at least the adoption of the state-wide law in 1996. The big ones were the San Francisco District Attorney and three SF School Board members, as well as the failed Los Angeles District Attorney recall. On the international level, the Mexican Presidential recall was the big moment, albeit an anticlimactic one. 

The number of officials who faced actual recall elections rose this year, but the number of attempts to recall officials dropped back to more normal levels. In 2020 and 2021, voter anger over pandemic-era lockdowns inspired far more recall efforts. In 2021 alone, voters attempted to recall officials more than 600 times, compared with 415 times this year.

In 2020, just 66 officials were forced into recall elections, and 14 more resigned before they had to face a recall. The same number, 66, faced recalls in 2021, and another 17 resigned early. 

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).

Some caveats here:

  • We are definitely missing recalls here. As I've mentioned many times before, the death of local newspapers is a disaster for local political coverage (not to mention for the country and democracy in general). The result is a number of recalls fall the cracks and are not reported on. Sometimes they pop up later.
  • 2021 was the first time since I've been keeping track (since 2011) that more officials survived a recall vote than lost. 2022 is back to form.
  • The one missing recall survival that I've added was the East Cleveland one. I was not sure how to put that one in because they weren't counting the results, but it's clear it should be in the survived recall column.
What do we have coming up? More recalls -- 12 already scheduled for 2023, including Turner, Oregon's on January 3rd. 

Michigan: Petitions approved against Fremont Township Board over wind proposal

Petitions were approved against all four Fremont Township Board members Supervisor Jeff Furness, Clerk Reta Gardner, Treasurer Patti Shinn and Trustee Michael Noll Jr.. The recall was another one over wind energy projects. The vote was over raising a maximum height.

Petitioners need 112 signatures each.

The original efforts were all rejected by the Sanilac County Election Commission on factualness grounds. 

Ohio: Waterville Councilmembers facing recall effort

Waterville Councilmember Anthony Bruno and John Rozic are facing recall efforts over a vote in favor of the construction of a concert venue/amphitheater. Petitioners have also turned in a resolution demanding that the amphitheater decision be put to a vote.

Bruno is also facing claims that he lives outside of Waterville. 

Petitioners need 15% of the turnout from the last municipal elections in 90 days.

Canada: British Columbia Premier threatened with recall effort

A recall effort is being launched against British Columbia Premier David Eby, an NDP MLA, over the passage of a Health Professions and Occupations Act. Petitioners would have to get more than 17000 signatures to get on the ballot. No recall has gotten to the ballot in BC history.

Previous articles have noted that this would be the 28th recall petition taken out since 1995, though there have been no recall elections held. Only six have been turned in with signatures. Five failed to get enough signatures, and the MLA resigned during the verification process in the sixth.

Malayasia: Anti-Party Hopping law leads to recall efforts

Malaysia's anti-party hopping law may result in recalls after four lawmakers from Sabah switched their party and backed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The leader of the Bersatu party has asked that the former members face a recall vote due to switching parties. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Oregon: Morrow County Commission lack of quorum may force it to shut down for end of the year

The repercussions of the Morrow County Commission recall in a state that uses a recall law that involves an appointed rather than elected replacement model is showing its head again. Morrow will have only one member on the council and cannot have meetings without a quorum to approve bills. The Governor has to appoint replacements and it is not clear that Governor Brown will do that.

The two officials, Jim Doherty (1319-1169) and Melissa Lindsay (1248-1237), appear to have lost the recall election held on November 29 (though they are waiting for postmarked and challenged ballots). Lindsay's term is over at the end of the year. 

Petitioners handed in 657 for Lindsay and 648 for Doherty. They needed 564 valid signatures.

The recall seems to be about the firing of a county administrator (who is now suing the county for wrongful termination), ambulance service issues and nitrate contamination. 

Virginia: New effort in Portsmouth to create Malfeasance Standard to limit recalls

There's a new push to change the Portsmouth's recall law at the state level. 

The change would have created a malfeasance standard/judicial recall law, requiring specific statutorily delineated grounds (approved by a judge) for the recall to move forward. 

The previous effort was killed in the House of Delegates, with Delegate Tim Anderson (R), who supported a recall effort against Senate President Pro Temp Louise Lucas (D) last year, credited with stopping the proposed law.

At the moment, there is a new recall effort against Portsmouth Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes and Councilmember Mark Whitaker over a vote to fire the city manager and replace her with the former police chief.

Portsmouth is the site of the first (that I know of) two-time recall loser, Mayor James Holley (in 1987 and 2010) and a failed effort against Mayor Kenny Wright in 2016. 

Michigan: Recalls make the ballot for four officials in Cato and Belvidere -- over wind turbine ordinances

Recall Elections against Cato Township Supervisor Larry Gilbert, Clerk Todd Lincoln and Trustee Jourdan Lindsay and Belvidere Township Supervisor John Anderson are all heading to the ballot on May 2. All of the officials are Republicans.

Petitioners needed 283 valid signatures for the three Cato officials. They got Gilbert (411), Lincoln 383) and Lindsey (365). For Anderson, they got 358 valid signatures and needed 227. 

The recalls are all over votes to approve wind and solar energy ordinances, as have been many in Michigan over the last year. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Oregon: Baker City Councilors recall effort fails

The recall effort against six Baker City Councilor, Joanna Dixon, Johnny Waggoner Sr., Dean Guyer, Kerry McQuisten, Shane Alderson and Jason Spriet, has failed, with petitioner not handing in signatures. They needed 680. 

The recall was over a decision to accept the City Manager's proposal to remove ambulance services from the fire department's job and cut fire department employees. A seventh councilor is ineligible until September 22.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Texas: Odessa Mayor and City Council member facing recall threats

Odessa Mayor Javier Joven and City Council members Mark Matta and Denise Swanner (and potentially a fourth member) are facing recall threats over a 5-2 vote to fire the City Manager and City Attorney.  The vote was apparently scheduled at the last moment and the public was not able to speak until after the vote.

Michigan: Petitions against Fremont Township Board rejected on factualness grounds

Petitions against four Fremont Township Board members, Supervisor Jeff Furness, Clerk Reta Gardner, Treasurer Patti Shinn and Trustee Michael Noll Jr., were all rejected by the Sanilac County Election Commission on factualness grounds. The recall was another one over wind energy projects. The vote was over raising a maximum height.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Virginia: Signatures collected in Prince William County Supervisor recall

Petitioners claim that they are near the signature requirement to get a recall trial against Prince William County Board of Supervisor Chair Ann Wheeler (D). Petitioners need 11,209 valid signatures. This would not be a recall election, but a recall trial presided over by a judge. 

The recall, and the recent resignation of Supervisor Peter Candland in the face of recall threats, appears to be over the supervisors' approval of development proposals for data centers. Apparently, Candland, who served 10 years, abstained from the vote and "stands to make millions of dollars from selling his home on land now earmarked for data centers."

Oregon: Turner City Councilmember facing January 3 recall vote

Turner City Councilmember Mark McCracken is facing a January 3 recall election over complaints about bullying behavior and his support for the expansion of an urban growth boundary and opposition to a school bond. The big issue seems to be negative comments he apparently made on a Facebook group about a neighborhood child with brain cancer. Petitioners got 157 signatures. 

Oregon: John Day/Canyon City Parks and Recreation District Board Member survives recall vote

John Day/Canyon City Parks and Recreation District Board Member Lisa Weigum survived a recall election, 447-715. The recall was over complaints that she broke public meeting and publication laws, though her supporters note that she doesn't have the ability to make some of these decisions. The issue seems to be a $4M poll bond initiative that failed by close margins (in May, it failed on a 802-802 tie).  Petitioners handed in 295 valids and needed 289.

California: Replacement vote still on for Banning City Council member

Banning City Council member Mary Hamlin resigned from office in the face of a recall, but because of the lateness of the resignation the vote was still held. Hamlin lost, 2469-119. The recall was over a vote to approve an industrial warehouse space project. 

L. Michele Walter and Sheri Flynn are running in the replacement race, which was scheduled for December 13, but ballots can still be received by December 20.  Flynn is currently leading by almost 30% (over 700 votes).

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

California: Big Bear Lake City Councilmember loses recall vote

A little late on this one, but Big Bear Lake City Councilmember Alan Lee lost his recall, 321-114. The recall was over complaints of violating campaign spending and public records law and creating a hostile work environment for the city manager, though it seems vacation rental policy was a key issue.

Kendi Segovia won the replacement race against Jim Eakin, with 62.9% of the vote

Op-ed on the recall and the Progressive Prosecutors movement

Here's my op-ed in the Hill on the recall as one tool in the recent battle over the growth of the Progressive Prosecutors movement.

Arkansas: Centerton Mayor facing recall effort

Centerton Mayor Bill Edwards is facing a recall effort, seemingly over the fact that 52% of voters cast ballots for other candidates (Edwards got 48%. Second place was at 18%). Edwards is starting his fourth term. The recall notes the arrest of the head of the Public Works Department for theft, police department issues and animal shelter euthanization. The article notes that they would need 3094 signatures (25% of eligible voters -- which is like the Wisconsin law, rather than registered voters).

The article notes that the Arkansas legislature adopted a recall procedure law in 2009 for all cities with a four year mayor-council form of government. Arkansas had adopted a recall in 1912, but a questionable state Supreme Court decision tossed it out. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Kansas: Douglas County District Attorney facing recall threats encouraged by Sheriff

Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez is a target of a recall effort, with encouragement by Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister. Valdez accepted a plea bargain in a sexual assault case to aggravated battery, after the lead detective was pulled over misconduct concerns. One resident complained to the sheriff who apparently responded "Why on earth have you not filed a recall petition against this DA?" Perhaps unsurprisingly, Valdez and Armbrister have had other noteworthy disputes.

Kansas is a malfeasance standard state and as such would require a showing of cause. In an interesting twist, the DA is the one who makes the initial determination of sufficiency, but a judge will have to appoint someone else to make that decision. Petitioners would need 40% of turnout in 90 days (which seems to be 18,392). 

Virginia: Prince William County Supervisor resigns

Prince William County Supervisor Peter Candland resigned in the face of recall threats over the supervisors' approval of development proposals for data centers. Apparently, Candland, who served 10 years, abstained from the vote and "stands to make millions of dollars from selling his home on land now earmarked for data centers."

There was also an attempt to recall Supervisor Ann Wheeler (D), though no word on what happened there. 

Friday, December 9, 2022

Maine: One of two Oxford Hills School Board Members resigns

One of two School Board Members in Paris' Oxford Hills School District who is facing a January 10 recall (though that is up for debate), has resigned. Julia Lester is reported to have quit the board (along with another member who was not facing a recall effort.

No word on the second member, Sarah Otterson, who is presumably facing a recall vote. The issue was  their support for a proposal to promote a "safe learning environment of students of all gender and sexual identities." Recall proponents arguing that the proposal would "allow teachers to withhold important information from parents."

700 signatures were turned in, though the recall seems to have a significant issue in that it is not clear that the town has the ability to initiate the recall because the school district serves multiple communities.

Update: Troy Ripley has been appointed to fill Lester's position.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

California: Petitions approved against L.A. Councilmember

Petitions have now been approved against Los Angeles City councilmember Kevin de Leon (the former President Pro Tempore of the State Senate) in the continuing fallout from racist comments from City Council President Nury Martinez regarding redistricting. Martinez. has already resigned due to the revelations, and still no word on a recall against the third council member who was in the room, Gil Cedillo.

Notably, Pamela Adkins, one of the petitions has filed three previous recall attempts against de Leon in July 2021 and May 2022 (over homeless issues). Earlier articles noted that Adkins would be pushing from the right, while the current criticism is from the left.

Petitioners would need 20,437 signatures to get to the ballot.

California: Los Angeles Judge gives petitioners access to some records in review of LA D.A. recall effort

 An L.A. County Superior Court Judge has given the petitioners in the Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon recall effort some access to voter records in order to review the invalidated signatures that resulted in them just missing getting the recall on the ballot. The judge noted that the limited rules for review would have taken the petitioners 18 months to complete the process.

Monday, December 5, 2022

California: Federal Appellate Court rejects challenge to recall law

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the one-day, two-step California recall process, focusing on the inability to vote for the targeted official on the second question. The plaintiff claimed it was a violation of one-person, one vote law. This was rejected, with the court noting, among other points, that term limits are constitutional under California law. California's law used to prevent people who voted no on the first question from voting for the replacement, but that has since been tossed out.

Oregon: Morrow County Commissioners losing recall votes

Morrow County Commissioners Jim Doherty (1319-1169) and Melissa Lindsay (1248-1237) appear to be losing the recall election held on November 29 (though they are waiting for postmarked and challenged ballots). Lindsay's term is over at the end of the year. 

Petitioners handed in 657 for Lindsay and 648 for Doherty. They needed 564 valid signatures.

The recall seems to be about the firing of a county administrator (who is now suing the county for wrongful termination), ambulance service issues and nitrate contamination. 

Georgia: General threats floated for recall of Habersham County Board of Commissioners

Not clear if this is serious at all, but there seems to be threats against the Habersham County Board of Commissioners, though the article notes that it is difficult to pull off. 

Nebraska: Petitions taken out against Gretna School Board members

A recall effort against Gretna School Board members Rick Hollendieck, Kyle Janssen and Dawn Stock needed 2429 signatures each by December 2 to get on the ballot. No word on whether they handed in the signatures, though it sounds like they did not get there. The lead petitioner ran for the school board last year.

The recall effort is over complaints about a property tax levy and transparency and spending claims.

Update: The recall effort failed. No signatures were handed in. 

California: Gilroy Councilmember recall fails, as random sampling shows a too high failure rate

The petition to recall Gilroy Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz failed. Petitioners handed in 6375 signatures. Petitioners needed 6218 signatures. A random sampling of 500 signatures found only 383 valids, which would have resulted in 4744 valids, less than the 90% needed to do a full count. 

The recall is over two fatal shootings that took place at a party at a house. a party which she apparently helped host for her son. An investigation found that she didn't fully cooperate with investigators. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Arizona: Cochise County Supervisors facing recall threats

Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd (R) and Tom Crosby (R) are facing recall threats after they refused to certify the November votes of the county due to baseless claims of election deniers. The two folded after a judge stepped in. Petitioners would need to get 3788 signatures for Judd and 4865 for Crosby. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

New Jersey: Jersey City Mayor facing recall threats

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is hearing some noises over taxes, though New Jersey is notable for being a particularly difficult state to get recalls to the ballot.