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STANTON : Opponents Fail in Bid to Recall Mayor

Opponents of Mayor Sal Sapien have failed in a bid to oust him from office, falling just short of the 2,165 signatures that had to be submitted by Friday to force a recall election.

Sapien’s opponents, including Councilmen David John Shawver and Harry Dotson and former Planning Commissioner Rand Hogan, sought his ouster because of the mayor’s support of a planned $5-million civic center and the return of a controversial auto wrecking yard to the city.

“I guess this shows that the residents of Stanton are a lot smarter than their two troublemaking elected officials Mr. Shawver and Mr. Dotson,” Sapien said Friday.

“I hope that we can get on with life, and I hope that we can build the civic center that Stanton so badly needs. I hope that we can progress and leave these obstructionists behind,” he said.

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Since the recall drive began in April, Sapien’s opponents had sought to obtain the signatures of 20% of the city’s registered voters to force the recall vote. Before time ran out Friday, recall proponents scrambled unsuccessfully to get the last 35 signatures they needed.

“We felt we were serving the people,” Dotson said. “We made an honest effort. We tried. Unfortunately, we have to say we failed.”

Hogan said after the deadline passed: “I’m disappointed personally, but also I have a feeling of regret for the residents. If this civic center project is built, the residents are going to be paying in the way of reduced police and fire services for years down the road.”

Sapien denies that city services would be hurt and has said that the civic center project can be paid for with present redevelopment funds.

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Dotson and Hogan said Sapien successfully countered the recall campaign in mid-July by sending thousands of letters to residents. In that mailing, Sapien called arguments against the new civic center “misinformation, most of it lies and half-truths.” He also encouraged residents who signed the recall petition to mail requests to the city clerk to remove their names from it.

Hogan, who spearheaded the recall campaign, was fired from the Planning Commission by a 3-2 vote of the City Council without explanation. Sapien, Don Martinez and Joe Harris voted for Hogan’s ouster, and Shaver and Dotson opposed the move.

The recall petition attacked Sapien’s support of the planned new civic center while the city was struggling financially. It also criticizes his support of the reopening of Pick Your Part, an auto wrecking yard on Beach Boulevard that cost the city thousands in legal fees to shut down.

Dotson said he did not know whether there would be another recall attempt. “We’ve got to sit down and discuss (whether) it’s worth the turmoil,” he said.

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