Los Angeles County Measure R approved

Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R on Tuesday 70% to 30% according to unofficial election night results. The measure was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition campaign that submitted 247,000 signatures to the county clerk. Measure R tasks the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission with developing a plan designed to reduce the jail population and re-incarceration rates. It also grants the Commission subpoena power to investigate complaints made against the department. Going into the election, a majority of the nine-member commission needed to vote to request the Office of the Inspector General to subpoena documents or witnesses. Measure R gave the subpoena power directly to the Commission.

Reform LA Jails led the support campaign, Yes on R. As of January 2020, the committee had raised $1.9 million in contributions. Cari Tuna, the president of Open Philanthropy Project and Good Ventures, provided $1.2 million. Yes on R received endorsements from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva came out in opposition to the measure, stating, “Measure R will open the floodgates for many more ill-advised lawsuits designed to seek documents that are not legally available for public release. … The Board of Supervisors, the Inspector General and the Civilian Oversight Commission would better serve the community by working collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department.” Ballotpedia did not identify any campaign committees registered in opposition to the measure.

Okoloko joins Snohomish County Superior Court for the second time

On March 1, 2020, Edirin Okoloko joined the Snohomish County Superior Court for the second time in as many years. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) first appointed Okoloko to the court in September 2018 to replace retiring judge George N. Bowden. Okoloko held the position for just over a year until he lost a retention election to Anna Alexander in November 2019. Inslee again appointed Okoloko to the Snohomish County Superior Court on January 22, 2020, to replace retiring judge Linda C. Krese.

Before becoming a judge, Okoloko worked as the Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for 13 years.

The Snohomish County Superior Court is one of 32 superior courts covering 39 counties in the state of Washington. According to the official website of the Washington court system, superior courts have “exclusive jurisdiction for felony matters, real property rights, domestic relations, estate, mental illness, juvenile, and civil cases over $50,000.”

Click here to learn more.

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

North Dakota school board members removed in recall election

An election to recall two Williams County Public School District No. 8 school board members in North Dakota was approved by voters on February 25. Board President Penny Soiseth and Vice President Curt Sullivan were both removed from office, and Chris Jundt and Sarah Williams were elected to replace them.

Jundt and Williams support dissolving the district and said they were frustrated with the lack of board transparency as well as a plan to secure $12 million to expand Williston High School. They also said the board had chosen not to listen to district residents.

Soiseth said they had listened to district residents. “We’ve had five town hall meetings where people could come in and they could say what they wanted to say. They did have the ability to reach out to us, and I had very few people reach out to me. Transparency, anything that the board has talked about, I have portrayed,” Soiseth said.

Jundt submitted the recall petition on November 4, 2019, with 45 signatures. To get the recall election on the ballot, 24 valid signatures were required.

Ballotpedia has tracked nine school board recall efforts targeting 26 board members in 2020. The Williams County school board recall election was the first to be held this year. A second school board recall election is being held on June 2.

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.

Additional reading:

Fifteen of 29 of the largest cities holding 2020 mayoral elections have Republican incumbents

Twenty-nine mayoral elections will be held in the 100 largest U.S. cities in 2020. In 15 of those cities (52%), the incumbent mayor is a Republican. In 12 (41%), the incumbent is a Democrat. In one, the incumbent is an independent, and in one the incumbent is nonpartisan.

Compared to the entire group of the 100 largest cities by population, there are a disproportionately high number of cities with Republican incumbents holding elections this year.

In the 100 largest cities:

  • 64 mayors are Democrats,
  • 29 are Republicans,
  • Three are independents,
  • and four are nonpartisan.

At the beginning of 2019, 61 of the 100 largest cities had Democratic mayors. Sixty-three had Democratic mayors at the start of 2018, 64 at the beginning of 2017, and 67 at the start of 2016.

In most of the nation’s largest cities, mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. This analysis uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Of the 100 largest cities, there are 47 strong mayor governments, 46 council-manager governments, six hybrid governments, and one city commission. As of 2013, 62,186,079 citizens lived in these cities, accounting for 19.7 percent of the nation’s total population.

Click here to read more

Additional reading:
Party affiliation of the mayors of the 100 largest cities 
List of current mayors of the top 100 cities in the United States 
Largest cities in the United States by population 

Gilbert City Council member appointed Maricopa County Assessor

On February 19, 2020, Gilbert City Council member Eddie Cook (R) resigned to accept an appointment to become the Maricopa County Assessor. Cook replaces Paul Petersen, who resigned in January.

A county assessor is a public official responsible for determining the value of properties for tax purposes. As county assessor, Cook will organize regular evaluations of properties throughout Maricopa County and use those evaluations to calculate property tax obligations for residents and businesses. County assessors also maintain property records, deeds, and other documents related to county properties.

Cook’s appointment comes after former assessor Paul Petersen (R) resigned on January 7, 2020. Petersen resigned after being indicted in connection with an adoption fraud on October 8, 2019. The 32-count indictment alleged conspiracy, theft, forgery and 29 counts of fraudulent schemes, according to AZ Central. Petersen’s attorneys released a statement asserting his innocence.

A special election will be held to fill the vacancy created by Cook’s resignation. The winner of that election will serve out the remainder of Cook’s term on the Gilbert City Council, which is set to end in January 2021.

Click here to read 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

Milwaukee to hold municipal primaries on February 18

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is holding nonpartisan primaries on Tuesday, February 18. A general election will occur on April 7, 2020.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, the following offices are up for election:
• Mayor
• Common council (15 seats)
• City attorney
• City comptroller

All 15 Milwaukee Common Council seats are up for election in 2020. A primary is held if more than two candidates filed to run for a seat. Primaries are being held for Districts 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, and 14. Candidates running for Districts 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15 automatically advanced to the general election in April.

Four candidates filed to run in the primary for mayor of Milwaukee. Paul Rasky, Lena Taylor, and Tony Zielinksi are challenging incumbent mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett first assumed office in 2004.

Three candidates filed to run in the primary for Milwaukee City Attorney. Grant Langley, the current city attorney, first assumed office in 1984. He faces Vincent J. Bobot and Tearman Spencer in the primary.

Alex Brower, Jason Fields, and Aycha Sawa are competing in the primary for Milwaukee City Comptroller. Martin Matson, the current city comptroller, did not seek re-election in 2020.

A general election will be held for the office of Milwaukee City Treasurer in April. The primary was canceled after only two candidates filed for the race. Incumbent Spencer Coggs, who first assumed the office in 2012, will face Brandon Methu in the general election on April 7, 2020.

City offices in Milwaukee are officially nonpartisan.

Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s city elections
Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s mayoral elections

Additional reading:
Wisconsin elections, 2020 
Elections calendar
List of current mayors of the top 100 cities in the United States
Largest cities in the United States by population 

Caddo Parish Public Schools schedules special election for November 3

Caddo Parish Public Schools in Louisiana announced a special election for the District 8 seat. The election is being held on November 3, 2020. The filing period for the special election is from July 15 to July 17. The seat was previously represented by Denee Locke (R), who announced her resignation on February 11 after moving out of the district.

The board is appointing an interim school board member after applicant interviews are conducted during a February 21 special meeting. Applicants had until noon on February 14 to submit letters of interest to the board. The interim member will serve until the special election winner is sworn in.

Caddo Parish Public Schools has a 12-member school board. All board members serve four-year terms and are elected concurrently in by-district partisan elections. Following the 2018 election, seven board seats were held by Democratic members and five were held by Republican members, including Locke in District 8. That year, Democrats picked up one seat previously held by an independent board member and the number of Republican members remained the same.

Click here to read more about Caddo Parish Public Schools 2020 election

Additional reading
Caddo Parish Public Schools, Louisiana
Caddo Parish Public Schools elections (2018)

Romeo resigns from New York State Assembly for County Clerk appointment

On February 6, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Jamie Romeo as Monroe County Clerk. Romeo resigned her seat in the 136th district in the New York State Assembly to take the appointment.

According to New York law: “Filling of vacancies. Except as hereinafter provided, a vacancy in an elective county office, shall be filled by the governor by appointment and for the office of sheriff with the advice and consent of the senate if in session. ”

In New York, the governor fills vacancies in the state legislature through special elections. If the vacancy occurs before April 1, the governor can call a special election. If the state legislature calls a special session after April 1, the governor may call a special election to fill the seat. The person elected to fill the vacancy serves for the remainder of the unexpired term. There are currently three open seats in the New York State Assembly.

As of Feb. 11, Governor Cuomo’s office had yet to announce if a special election will take place to replace Romeo.

Additional Reading: