Efforts to recall four local politicians will not appear on the ballot in November, but may still result in special elections in early 2019. However, if that happens, it may cost taxpayers $20,000 to $25,000 per candidate.
County Clerk Recorder Alissia Northrup said Thursday that petitioners were trying to time the efforts with the November regular election in order to avoid the cost of a special election. She said the time has passed for that to be able to happen, but if petitioners still want to push a special recall election, there is still time.
She said petitioners for the recalls of Supervisors Bob Berkowitz and Roger Gitlin have until Aug. 20 to return signatures. Those collecting signatures for the recalls of Supervisor Lori Cowan and Crescent City Council Mayor Pro Tem Heidi Kime have until Aug 25.
“If they follow through, it will trigger a special election in January,” she said, noting that she has had no recent contact with any of the petitioners.
Special election costs could not be compiled, as each is in a separate district and would require a specific ballot, Northrup said.
She said signatures will still need to be verified and come before the Board of Supervisors for approval.
All three supervisors and Kime were contacted Friday night for comment.
“In this attempt to institute a recall, most voters were asking themselves ‘why?’ Not a single issue was presented as a reason for this attempt,” Berkowitz responded via email. “Jesse Davis, the instigator of the recall, when asked in a radio interview what was his reason, he said he did it just because he could. That’s a very flimsy reason for a recall. Those under the threat of recall election had to waste precious time away from doing the county’s business to spend time and resources to defend themselves from this unnecessary distraction.”
Kime was contacted while at First Friday downtown and said she was not previously aware that the recall failed to make the November ballot.
“I’d just like to say I’m thankful that Lori and I will be able to continue the good work we do for the community,” Kime said. Asked if she thought a special election would still occur, Kime was doubtful.
“The whole reason for my recall was that they didn’t like how money was being spent,” she said, adding the idea of spending county money on a recall election seemed counterintuitive to that cause.
Cowan was on the road near Orick, and could only make a short statement with the spotty reception.
“I really haven’t put that much thought into it or paid much attention to it,” Cowan said. “I’ve just been focused on doing the job I’m supposed to do.”
Gitlin said he had spoken with Northrup and was aware the recall would not make the November ballot. Asked how he felt about the issue, he said he felt the recall effort against himself and Berkowitz was frivolous and could not cite any violations worthy of a recall election. He questioned the timing of the recall, which happened immediately after Supervisors Gerry Hemmingsen and Chris Howard were re-elected.
“I suspect they have their DNA on it,” he said.
Gitlin also said he hopes the efforts will not set a future precedent of organizing recall elections for frivolous reasons.
“I’m glad they’re over, if that’s what will happen,” Gitlin said. “I’d like to get back to the business of operating the county, where we all can begin to work together and get along.”
Efforts to contact petitioners were unsuccessful.