Author

Tyler King

Tyler King is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at tyler.king@ballotpedia.org

Recall effort rejected in Bell Gardens, California

An effort to recall Mayor Alejandra Cortez and city council members Pedro Aceituno and Marco Barcena in Bell Gardens, California, was rejected by the city clerk. Recall organizers submitted notices of intent to recall in late February. The notices were rejected on the grounds that they did not include Section 11023 of the Elections Code, which covers the handling of statements of defense.

Recalls of local officials in California start with notices of intent to targeted officials. Each notice requires signatures from 10 city residents, the name of the targeted official, and reasoning for the recall that cannot exceed 200 words. A copy of the notice is delivered to the city clerk, who publishes the notice in at least three public places. Targeted officials have seven days following receipt of their notices to issue statements of defense. A recall petition can be circulated against each targeted official once the notice of intent is published. Recall efforts can be started from the beginning of the process after notices of intent are rejected.

The recall effort against Cortez, Aceituno, and Barcena was initiated in response to issues surrounding real estate development and cannabis businesses.

Aceituno was elected to the city council in a 1999 recall election that saw the removal of Mayor Joaquin Penilla, Mayor Pro Tem David Torres, and Councilman Salvador Rios. Aceituno received the most votes to replace Torres.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:
Laws governing recall in California
Political recall efforts, 2020



Special elections being held in three Pennsylvania House districts

Special elections are being held on March 17 for District 8, District 18, and District 58 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. All three seats were previously held by Republican incumbents. Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties.

  • Phil Heasley (D) and Tim Bonner (R) are facing off in District 8. The seat became vacant after Tedd Nesbit (R) resigned on January 2 to join the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas in Ohio.
  • Harold Hayes (D) and K.C. Tomlinson (R) are facing off in District 18. The seat became vacant after Gene DiGirolamo (R) resigned on January 6 when he was sworn in as a Bucks County commissioner.
  • Robert Prah Jr. (D), Eric Davanzo (R), and Ken Bach (L) are facing off in District 58. The seat became vacant after Justin Walsh (R) resigned on December 26 after he was elected as a Westmoreland County judge.

Regularly scheduled elections are being held in Pennsylvania House districts in 2020. The primary is taking place on April 28. The general election will be held on November 3.

Heading into the special elections, Republicans have a 107-93 majority in the Pennsylvania House with three vacancies. Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of March, 34 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:


Candidate filing period for state offices ends in six states

The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Montana passed on March 9. That deadline was followed up on March 10 by filing deadlines in New Mexico and Oregon. Candidates running in Idaho, Iowa, and Nevada have until March 13 to file. Prospective candidates could file for the following offices:

  • U.S. Senate seats in Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon
  • U.S. House seats in all six states
  • State executive offices in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon
  • State legislative seats in all six states
  • State supreme court seats in all six states
  • Intermediate appellate court seats in Idaho, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in parts of Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Primaries in Idaho and Oregon are being held on May 19. Iowa, Montana, and New Mexico are holding primaries on June 2. Nevada has its primary on June 9.

After these six filing deadlines, 21 states will have held statewide filing deadlines in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 16 in Maine.

Additional reading:


Councilman facing recall election in Foster City, California

A recall election against Councilman Herb Perez is being held on March 3 in Foster City, California. The recall effort was organized by a group called FC Watchdog, which accused Perez of “open disdain for residents” and having a pro-development agenda. Jeff Regan, an organizer for the recall, said about the recall effort, “It’s because when a resident goes up to speak publicly and gets treated with disdain — that blocks democracy and it’s an intimidation tactic. At a certain point, enough is enough.”

Perez responded to the recall effort and said, “I respect democracy. It’s unfortunate that individuals behind the recall do not. They would circumvent the will of eight years of voters who have consistently supported and voted me into office and that’s unfortunate. … They cannot name a single wrongdoing, no illegal taking of money, nothing. They just don’t like me and I’m OK with that.”

Petitioners were required to gather valid signatures equal to 20% of the registered voters in the city. The requirement was 3,313 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot. Petitioners submitted 4,389 signatures for verification on September 16, 2019. Enough signatures were verified on October 15, 2019, to put the recall on the ballot.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Laws governing recall in California 
Political recall efforts, 2020



Special election being held in Pennsylvania House district

A special election is being held on February 25 for District 190 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. G. Roni Green (D), a business agent for SEIU Local 668, is facing off against businesswoman Wanda Logan (R). Candidates running for special election in Pennsylvania are directly selected by their respective political parties without a primary.

The seat became vacant when Movita Johnson-Harrell (D) resigned on December 13, 2019, after being charged with theft, perjury, and tampering with public records. Johnson-Harrell was first elected in a special election in March 2019.

Regularly scheduled elections are also being held in Pennsylvania House districts in 2020, including in District 190. Green is one of seven candidates running in the regular Democratic primary; Logan was the only Republican candidate to file for election in the district. The primary is taking place on April 28, and the general election is on November 3.

Heading into the election, Republicans have a 107-92 majority in the Pennsylvania House with four vacancies. Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of February, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:



Recall effort ends in Oro Valley, Arizona

Recall organizers announced on February 4 that they were no longer gathering signatures in the recall efforts against Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield and Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett. According to recall organizers, the issues that led to the recall effort were resolved.

Resident Tom Plantz and the group Oro Valley Thrives initiated the recall effort in November 2019 in response to plans made for El Conquistador Golf Club. The town council voted in October 2019 to keep the golf course open, with plans to make irrigation and other improvements beginning in October 2021. LeFevre said new members wouldn’t want to join the club if construction took too long. On February 4, Plantz said the recall effort had achieved its goals. He said, “I think the mayor and council have moved positively in the right direction. I think the recall has achieved its purpose in promoting the betterment of Oro Valley.”

The town council approved new plans for the town’s two golf courses in November 2019. Those plans set repairs for the El Conquistador course to be completed by 2021, repairs for the Cañada course by 2022, and improvements to the clubhouse and restaurant by 2023. The hiring of Kara Riley as the Oro Valley police commander this month also contributed to the decision to withdraw the recall effort, according to Plantz.

Winfield gave a statement after the recall effort ended. He said, “My commitment to the residents of Oro Valley is that I will strive to serve in the best interest of the community and I understand not everyone will be in agreement with every decision I make.”

The number of signatures required to qualify a recall attempt for the ballot is 25% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that office. Petitioners would have needed 3,952 signatures against Winfield and 3,668 signatures against Barrett by February 19 to trigger a recall election against each official. The number of signatures that had been gathered was not disclosed.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to learn more about the recall election in Oro Valley, Arizona

Additional reading:
Laws governing recall in Arizona 
Political recall efforts, 2020



Lawsuit filed in recall effort in Leon Valley, Texas

Five Leon Valley residents have filed a lawsuit to place a recall election on the May 2 ballot. Councilmembers Donna Charles and Monica Alcocer were targeted for recall after a 2-1 vote in August 2019 to remove Councilmember Benny Martinez. Charles and Alcocer voted in favor of removing Martinez due to allegations of sexual harassment as well as undermining Leon Valley’s legal department, community development department, police department, and the city manager. Martinez responded to the allegations by saying, “There is no validity to any of them. I deny all charges against me. This is a witch hunt to get me off the City Council.”

Petitioners were required to submit 500 valid signatures for each official to put the recalls on the ballot. More than 1,600 signatures were submitted for verification against Charles and Alcocer in November 2019. Scheduling for the recall election was on the city council’s agenda on January 21, but the matter wasn’t taken up during that meeting. A lawsuit to put the recall on the ballot was filed with the Fourth Court of Appeals on January 24.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:



Recall election moves forward in Jackson, Michigan

Downtown Jackson as seen from 12th floor of One Energy Plaza (CMS Energy World Headquarters)
Photo credit: Phillip L. Hofmeister

In Michigan, a recall election against Jackson Councilwoman Kelsey Heck is set to be on the May 5 ballot. The Jackson County Elections Clerk’s Office verified the signatures in the recall effort against Heck and posted an issuance of election on January 21.

Resident Susan Murdie initiated the recall effort in July 2019. Petitions listed the following as reasons for recalling Heck:

  • “For her June 11, 2019 vote in favor of Resolution for Approval of contract with MDOT for Greenwood Avenue/S. Jackson Street-Morrell Street to Franklin Street.”
  • “For her February 12, 2019 vote in favor of Ordinance 2019 02, for Relocation Assistance for displaced tenants.”

Murdie started gathering signatures in October 2019. There were 320 signatures submitted for verification on December 17, 2019. At least 226 valid signatures were required to put the recall election on the ballot.

Heck said the recall effort was initiated because of her appointment to the council seat in September 2018. Murdie was also a candidate for the position. Heck said the city’s charter should be changed to allow for special elections to fill vacancies on the city council.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to read more

See below for additional reading:
Laws governing recall in Michigan
Political recall efforts, 2020



Colorado recall election moves forward

In Colorado, the Idaho Springs City Council has voted to schedule the recall election against Mayor Mike Hillman on April 7. The deadline for candidates to file to run against Hillman is February 3.

The recall effort, organized by residents Amanda Kowalewski, Janet Diederichs, and Candace Voisard, was initiated in November 2019. Recall petitions included the following language explaining the allegations against Hillman:

  • “Significant erosion of public confidence in city government during Hillman’s administration;
  • Failure to adequately supervise planning staff, and, by failing to do so, allowing decisions to be made at staff level without public input or review that profoundly impact the property rights and quality of life of Idaho Springs residents; and
  • Allowing unresolved conflicts of interest by City Council members to occur.”

Hillman responded to the recall effort, saying the petitioners were unhappy with residential development in Idaho Springs. He added, “I have poured out my life for the job. They are trying to bring down the (city) council and trying to bring me down. They are trying to break down our community.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election is 25 percent of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled. Petitioners were required to submit 77 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot. There were 150 signatures submitted for verification on December 6. On January 13, after the signatures were verified, the Idaho Springs City Council voted to have the recall election take place on April 7.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Laws governing recall in Colorado
Political recall efforts, 2020



Recall election moves forward in McKinney, Texas

Signatures have been verified in the recall effort against Councilman La’Shadion Shemwell in McKinney, Texas. The city secretary found 3,062 signatures valid, and petitioners needed 2,127 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The election is expected to be held in May 2020.

Recall proponents accused Shemwell of failing to uphold his oath of office, violating the city charter, violating the city ethics code, missing meetings and events, making inflammatory statements about residents and city staff, and getting arrested during his tenure on the city council.

Shemwell responded to the verification of the petition signatures and said, “Not going to happen. I’m going to fight with every breath in my body, and I’m going to see you in court.”

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Laws governing recall in Texas
Political recall efforts, 2020



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