Filing deadline approaches for Miami municipal election

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Miami is on Sept. 18. Prospective candidates may file for mayor and two seats on the five-seat city commission.

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. If no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held Nov. 16.

Miami is the second-largest city in Florida and the 44th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort scheduled for Sept. 13

Supporters of an effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted petition signatures on Aug. 25. The hearing on those petitions has been scheduled for Sept. 13.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six members of the nine-member school board. They said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

Barts’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney. He also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 62 school board recall efforts against 158 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 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.

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Recall election for Sonoma County District Attorney to be held Sept. 14

A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, California, is on the Sept. 14 ballot. The candidate filing deadline passed on July 1, but no candidates filed to run in the replacement race. However, two write-in candidates—Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola—filed to run afterward.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on March 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 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.

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Early voting in Boston is Sept. 4-10

Early in-person voting for Boston’s Sept. 14 primary elections begins Sept. 4 and runs through Sept. 10. The city is holding elections for mayor and all 13 city council seats—four elected citywide and nine elected by district. The two candidates who receive the most primary votes in each race will advance to the Nov. 2 general election. The 17 candidates running for the city’s four at-large council seats will all compete in one race, and the top eight candidates will advance.

Four of the seven mayoral candidates are current city councilors, including the acting mayor. Kim Janey, who represents District 7, became acting mayor after former Mayor Marty Walsh joined President Joe Biden’s (D) Cabinet as secretary of labor. Councilors Andrea Campbell (District 4), Annissa Essaibi George (at-large), and Michelle Wu (at-large) are also running for mayor. 

The Boston Globe‘s Laura Crimaldi wrote, “Although census figures show about 65 percent of city residents identify as people of color, the upcoming election will be the first in Boston history that won’t result in a white man becoming mayor.” Each of the above candidates has argued that her personal experience and record best equips her to lead the city.

With the four mayoral candidates and an additional councilor not seeking re-election, around 40% of city council seats are open.

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Seattle city attorney candidates’ platforms highlight divide over issues of crime, public safety

In the November 2, 2021, general election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy leads Ann Davison in total fundraising and both candidates have gained endorsements since they advanced from the primary election on August 3, 2021. In that race, Thomas-Kennedy received 36.4% of the vote and Davison received 32.7%, ousting three-term incumbent Pete Holmes, who received 30.6% of the vote and conceded before results were certified.

As of the most recent filings reported by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission on August 30, Thomas-Kennedy has raised $206,965, while Davison has raised $63,336. Seattle newspapers The Stranger and The Urbanist have endorsed Thomas-Kennedy, along with Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (D), Washington’s 32nd, 34th, and 46th District Democrats, and the Seattle Transit Rider’s Union. Davison received endorsements from The Seattle Times, Former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley, Former Gov. Dan Evans (R), and the Concerned Taxpayers of Washington.

Crosscut, a nonprofit Seattle news site, said the race “will be one of clear contrasts and highlights just how divided the city is over issues of crime, public safety and criminal justice.” Davison, who ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor of Washington in 2020, said she was a moderate Democrat who ran as a Republican because “some parts of the Democratic Party in Seattle didn’t have room anymore for a pragmatist like me, with liberal values, wanting to make our city a better place.” She said Thomas-Kennedy “advocates the most extreme viewpoints: defund the police and abolish the city’s criminal justice system” and “believes such an approach would magically make crime disappear.” Davison said she would “build upon and offer alternative, non-criminal solutions, and interventions with measurable outcomes for those willing to seek help for their underlying problems,” but “there also must be accountability for actions that hurt other people.”

Thomas-Kennedy said “policing and prison do not meet their alleged goals” but instead accomplish “what they were actually designed to do: control and disappear the poor, the disabled, and BIPOC.” She said she would “address the root causes of poverty, homelessness, and despair” with a platform that includes ending prosecutions for drug crimes, defunding the Seattle Police Department, decriminalizing sex work, and ending homeless sweeps. Thomas-Kennedy said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year. We must dismantle this wasteful system of criminal punishment.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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Fifteen California counties to open early voting in Newsom recall on Sept. 4

Fifteen counties in California will open early voting centers in the recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 4. Early voting will run through Sept. 10. The election is on Sept. 14.

The counties holding early voting are participating in the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), which Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed in 2016. The VCA replaced traditional polling places with vote centers offering additional in-person services. Five counties participated in the VCA in 2018 and all California counties were able to opt in to the VCA beginning in 2020.

According to the secretary of state’s office, these early voting centers will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance. The map below highlights the counties participating in this system. To find early voting and ballot drop locations, click here.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Aug. 30 marks the filing deadline for Jersey City mayor and council

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Jersey City in New Jersey is on Aug. 30. Prospective candidates may file for Jersey City mayor and nine city council seats. All six districts of the city council are up for election as well as the two at large seats and council president. 

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. If necessary, a runoff election is scheduled for Dec. 7. 

Jersey City is the second-largest city in New Jersey and the 73rd-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Birmingham, Ala., holds municipal general election

Birmingham, Ala., held a municipal general election on Aug. 24. Candidates ran in nonpartisan elections for mayor and all nine seats on the city council. The filing deadline to run passed on July 10.

Voters re-elected Mayor Randall L. Woodfin to a second term. He defeated seven other candidates in the nonpartisan mayoral race, earning 64.3% of the vote.

Voters re-elected incumbents in six out of eight districts where an incumbent was running, with one race remaining too close to call as of Aug 25. In District 4, incumbent William Parker and challenger J.T. Moore will face each other in a general runoff election after no candidate in the race earned more than 50% of the vote. The general runoff will take place on Oct. 5.

Carol Clarke won the sole open seat on the council in District 8 with 51.7% of the vote, defeating seven other candidates.

The City Council District 1 race was canceled after incumbent Clinton Woods was the sole candidate who filed to run. 

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama by population and the 99th-largest city in the U.S. 

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Washington school board candidate who suspended campaign gets most primary votes, re-enters race

Kristi Schmeck, who suspended her campaign for a seat on the five-member Sequim School District Board of Directors in the late spring, rejoined the race after receiving the most votes in the Aug. 2 primary. Schmeck received 28.85% of the vote for the Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat, while Virginia R. Sheppard, the candidate with the second most votes, received 28.58%. In Washington, the top two vote-getters in a primary advance to the general election.

Incumbent Brandino Gibson did not file to run for re-election.

The Sequim School District spans Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington and is located in the westernmost part of the state on the Olympic Peninsula. Clallam County has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

According to the Sequim Gazette, Schmeck said on June 1 that she was attempting to remove her name from the ballot for personal reasons. S

he was unsuccessful, as she tried to withdraw her name after the May 21 filing deadline.

The Peninsula Daily News reported on Aug. 23 that Schmeck wrote in an email that she changed her mind about the race after seeing the primary results.

Schmeck and Sheppard will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 2. In a candidate statement submitted to the Washington Secretary of State, Schmeck said she’d been an “educator/coach for over 25 years” and Athletic Director at a charter school. She received a bachelor’s in physical education and completed a teaching credential program and health science credential at Chico State University in California.

Schmeck wrote, “As a Mother and Grandmother, I’m committed to the health and future success of our youth. For over 25 years, I have worked as a school teacher, basketball and track coach. Empowering student’s success is the driving force in my life. Running for School Board gives me the opportunity to bring my passion and years of experience to the next level, and collaborate to make positive changes that are visibly needed in our schools.”

In her candidate statement, Sheppard said she operates Generations Boutique, a small business, and has worked as a corporate collections coordinator and construction assistant. She attended Santa Monica City College and Port Angeles High School.

Sheppard wrote, “Experience matters! I am a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother. I find the need to step up and speak for the children of today and the future. I have had to sit back and watch our schools fail to teach our children the full history of America. Now we are told that American History must give way to Critical Race Theory, a largely untested proposition that assigns blame for many of society’s ills to one race of people, as if the cure for racism was another type of racism.”

In an email to the Peninsula Daily News, Schmeck wrote “[a]s a school board member our responsibility is to represent the community, parents and our students. My main concerns are the implementation of Critical Race Theory, the new adopted sex education program (CSE), and parents rights.”

The Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat is one of two seats on the Board up for election in 2021. Brian Kuh, the Director District No. 2 incumbent, declined to file for re-election. One candidate—Patrice Johnston—filed to enter that race.

Petition to recall Virginia school board member dismissed in court

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Richard Gardiner on Aug. 20 granted a motion to dismiss a recall petition against Fairfax County Public Schools school board member Elaine Tholen, ending the recall effort against her.

The petition against Tholen, the board’s Dranesville District representative, was initially deemed sufficient on July 23 to go to a court hearing. Tholen’s attorney filed a motion against the court’s decision to deem the petitions sufficient, and the hearing on that motion was held on Aug. 13. Gardiner said he granted the motion to dismiss “upon the Commonwealth’s position that the petition is not based on facts establishing probable cause for removal.”

The recall effort against Tholen and two other members of the board—Springfield District representative Laura Cohen and at-large representative Abrar Omeish—began in October 2020. The effort started in response to the district’s concurrent instruction program, which allowed students to choose between learning fully online or a hybrid option that included both online and in-person instruction. The program was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitions against Cohen and Omeish have not yet been submitted to the circuit court.

Recall supporters said that not being in the classroom adversely affected students. A spokeswoman for the school district said the district stood by its concurrent instruction program and that it had been well received.

Virginia requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, and conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. Tholen’s recall was submitted with more than 5,000 signatures.

All three board members were elected to four-year terms on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. Tholen won the open Dranesville District seat on the board against two opponents, receiving 58.7% of the vote. Cohen won the Springfield District seat after defeating two opponents, including the incumbent, with 50.5% of the vote. Omeish won one of the three at-large seats, receiving 20% of the vote in a six-way race.

Ballotpedia has tracked a total of 89 recall efforts related to the coronavirus or government responses to the pandemic that were started against elected officials in 2020 and 2021.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 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.

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