Author

Abbey Smith

Abbey Smith is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

What’s happening with recalls so far in 2022?

So far in 2022, Ballotpedia has tracked 103 recall efforts against 177 officials. School board members saw the most recall efforts started against them in 2022, continuing a trend that started in 2021. A total of 67 school board members have been included in recall efforts this year. City council members saw the second-most with 48, and county commissioners saw the third-most with 29. City council members drew the most recall petitions from 2016 to 2020.

Recall efforts against 57 officials have been related to COVID-19 or government responses to the pandemic in 2022, which accounts for 32.2% of officials included in recall efforts. In 2021, that percentage was 39.8% of officials, and it was 29.6% of officials in 2020.

Recall elections against 14 officials have been held so far this year. The recalls against six of those officials were approved by voters, removing them from office, while eight officials had their recalls rejected, keeping them in office. Recall elections against another 10 officials are scheduled to be held between March and June 2022. 

The 24 recall elections that have been held or scheduled for the first half of 2022 are higher than the 21 recall elections that were held between January and June 2021. In the first half of that year, nine officials were removed from office in recall elections, while 12 were retained. The first half of 2020 saw recall elections against 27 officials on the ballot. Thirteen of those officials were removed from office, and 14 kept their seats.

The following recall elections are scheduled to be held in March 2022:

  • March 22: Yamhill County Commission, Oregon
  • March 29: Regional School Unit 21, Maine

Additional reading:



Voters in California and Nebraska approve school board recall elections

The San Francisco Unified School District in California and the Giltner school district in Nebraska held recall elections against a total of four school board members on Feb. 15. Voters in both school districts approved the recalls, removing the board members from office.

In San Francisco, three school board members were on the ballot: Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. They will be removed from office once the county has certified the election results. That is expected to happen on March 1.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. ​​“From day one, the campaign was a campaign to get politics out of education,” Siva Raj, one of the recall petitioners and a district parent, said. “What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

At a board meeting on April 6, members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. In reaction to the recall effort, Moliga said he stood behind his record. López characterized the recall against her as sexist, ageist, and racist. “We can’t let people scare us,” Collins said. “When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced her endorsement of the recall on Nov. 9. She will appoint temporary replacements for the recalled board members. The replacements will need to run for election to the board this November if they wish to remain in office. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect ​​51,325 signatures per board member by Sept. 7.

In Giltner, one school board member was on the ballot: Chris Waddle. The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, Neb. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” Bendorf also published a statement about the recall effort, saying “what concerns me the most is hearing about families who have left due to administration dismissing concerns, current GPS parents that are looking at other options for schooling out of district, or even worse the fact they are regretting sending their child or children here.”

Waddle submitted the following response to the recall petition: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit 119 signatures from school district residents by Oct. 12.

Ballotpedia has tracked 26 school board recall efforts against 67 board members in 2022. Prior to the Feb. 15 recall election, four school districts held recall elections. All seven school board members who were on those recall ballots kept their seats.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.



School districts in California and Nebraska to hold recall elections on Feb. 15

The San Francisco Unified School District in California and the Giltner school district in Nebraska are holding recall elections against a total of four school board members on Feb. 15. Voters in both school districts will be able to cast yes votes in favor of the recalls or no votes against the recalls.

In San Francisco, three school board members are on the ballot: Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. ​​“From day one, the campaign was a campaign to get politics out of education,” Siva Raj, one of the recall petitioners and a district parent, said. “What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

Members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process at a board meeting on April 6. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. In reaction to the recall effort, Moliga said he stood behind his record. López characterized the recall against her as sexist, ageist, and racist. “We can’t let people scare us,” Collins said. “When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced her endorsement of the recall on Nov. 9. If the board members are recalled, the mayor will appoint replacements. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect ​​51,325 signatures per board member by Sept. 7.

In Giltner, one school board member is on the ballot: Chris Waddle. The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, Neb. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” Bendorf also published a statement about the recall effort, saying “what concerns me the most is hearing about families who have left due to administration dismissing concerns, current GPS parents that are looking at other options for schooling out of district, or even worse the fact they are regretting sending their child or children here.”

Waddle submitted the following response to the recall petition: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit 119 signatures of school district residents by Oct. 12.

Ballotpedia has tracked 24 school board recall efforts against 64 board members in 2022. Four school districts held recall elections in January. All seven school board members who were on the recall ballots kept their seats.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



Petitions to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón approved for circulation

Petitions to recall George Gascón from his position as the Los Angeles County District Attorney in California were approved for circulation on Jan. 27. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 566,857 signatures by July 6.

Recall supporters served Gascón with a notice of intent to recall on Dec. 7. They said that crime had risen in the county since Gascón had taken office. They published the following statement on their website about why they were pursuing a recall:

“As soon as he was sworn into office, District Attorney George Gascón began issuing directives to his prosecutors, instructing them to go soft on crime, coddle criminals, and trample upon the dignity and rights of crime victims. To keep our communities safe, to mete out just punishment to those who break our laws, and to provide justice to crime victims throughout Los Angles County, we must recall District Attorney George Gascón.”

At a press conference in December, Gascón defended his policies and said he was not responsible for the rise in homicides and robberies in the county. “We are trying to dramatically change a system that has served no one, not the victims of crime, not those who are accused and not the public,” Gascón said.

Gascón said he was trying to make the criminal justice system more efficient and more equitable. “We’re trying really hard to use the science that is currently available, the data that is currently available, to do our work,” Gascón said. “And I’m not going to be intimidated by political rhetoric.”

An earlier recall attempt against Gascón did not go to a vote in 2021. Recall supporters announced on Sept. 16 that they had not gathered enough signatures to meet the filing deadline.

Gascón was elected to a four-year term in the nonpartisan general election on Nov. 3, 2020, defeating incumbent Jackie Lacey with 53.5% of the vote.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



California county commission recall election to be held Feb. 1

A recall election against District 2 representative Leonard Moty on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in California is scheduled for Feb. 1. Two questions are on the ballot. The first is a yes/no question asking voters whether or not they would like to recall Moty. The second is a replacement question listing candidates who filed to run for Moty’s seat if a majority of voters vote yes on the first question. Tim Garman, Dale Ball, Tony Hayward, and Tarick Mahmoud filed to run in the replacement race.

The recall effort began in April 2021 and was initially against three of the five members of the board. District 1 representative Joe Chimenti and District 3 representative Mary Rickert were named along with Moty in the notices of intent to recall. Recall supporters filed signatures for the recall against Moty by the deadline on Sept. 29. They did not submit signatures for the other two commissioners.

Recall supporters cited the following reasons for recall: 

  1. “Betrayal of public trust by not defending the county from state government overreach” and
  2. “A need for fundamental change and irresponsible handling of taxpayer money.”

They also said the recall effort was the last resort to create change and that they could not wait until the next election.

After the recall election was scheduled, Moty said he would defend his position. “Now is not the time to tear us apart as some has sought,” Moty said. “But rather it’s a time to move our county forward. I will say here and now, I refuse to allow personal attacks on myself, my family, dedicated county workers, and courageous citizens by those who would halt our progress in our county.”

Moty was first elected to the board in 2008. He was re-elected to a four-year term on Nov. 3, 2020, receiving 51% of the vote and defeating two challengers.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



3 Nebraska school board members keep seats in Jan. 11 recall elections

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska held recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. A majority of voters cast ballots against all three recalls, keeping the board members in office.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans was on the ballot in the Waverly School District 145. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot. A total of 548 voters cast ballots against the recall, while 116 voted in favor.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman were on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member. A total of 246 voters cast ballots against recalling Ernest, while 196 voted in favor. In the recall election against Rushman, 264 voters voted against, and 179 voted in favor.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



Oregon school district to hold recall elections against two school board members Jan. 18

Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, the Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, are being held on Jan. 18. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters had 90 days to collect signatures equal to 15% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the board members’ respective zones

The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10 to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. Shannon wrote the motion for the ban and was joined in voting to approve it by Brown, Trevor DeHart, and Renee Powell. The board voted 4-3 on Sept. 28 to approve a policy banning all political symbols and images from schools. The same four members voted to approve the policy. In the same meeting, the board rescinded the previous policy that specifically mentioned Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags. The recall petitions said in part, “Brian Shannon has overreached, driving his ideological agenda in a manner that is both ethically and legally questionable. He does not represent the majority of us. Brian Shannon must be recalled.”

At the school board meeting on Sept 28, Shannon said, “This policy is so innocuous. It just says that teachers can’t display political symbols at work while they’re on school time. That should not be controversial.” He also said that the district needed to support all students. “It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group – it has to be all kids.”

The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Brown initiated the motion and voted in favor of firing Morelock. Morelock had been under contract through June 30, 2024. Recall supporters said the decision to fire Morelock “will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

When asked about his decision to vote to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock, Brown talked about the number of students who were leaving the school district. “We’re well past 250 on our way to 300 students, minimum, and it’s growing,” Brown said. He said the district loses approximately $9,000 to $11,000 for each student who leaves. “For a lot of people who have left our school district – they’re a part of this bigger portion that doesn’t feel like they’re being listened to or talked to. And I feel like the culture is going to be the best thing for the student, staff member or parent,” Brown said.

Both Brown and Shannon were elected to the seven-member board in 2019.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



Two Nebraska school districts to hold recall elections Jan. 11

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska are holding recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. Voters will be asked whether they are in favor of recalling the members from office with the option of voting yes or no.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans is on the ballot in the Waverly school district. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman are on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member.

Ballotpedia tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 339 recall efforts against 529 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



Voters defeat Wisconsin school board recall, keep member on board

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, was on the ballot on December 14, 2021. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election. Mertig received 53.7% of the votes in the election, defeating Pritzl and retaining his seat.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In our most recent recall report, which covered recalls from January to June 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Voters approve Nebraska county supervisor recall election

A recall election against Doris Karloff (R), District 2 representative of the seven-member Saunders County Board of Supervisors in Nebraska, was held on Dec. 14. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall to remove Karloff from office.

The recall effort was started by Rhonda Carritt, a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is represented by Karloff on the county board of supervisors. Carritt said Karloff was not representing “the best interests of the district.” Carritt confirmed with the Wahoo Newspaper that the recall was related to a solar farm project in the county among other things.

Karloff’s son went into contract with the company starting the solar farm. Because of that connection, Karloff said she abstained from all discussions on the permit and did not vote on any actions related to the solar farm. “I have tried to do my best to make sure that I was doing everything legally correct,” Karloff said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 573 signatures in 30 days. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and the county verified 581 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

Karloff won re-election to a four-year term in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. She defeated three other Republicans in the primary on May 12, and she ran uncontested in the general election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading: