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Huntington Beach City Council recall effort hits snag

Natalie Moser
Natalie Moser, who was elected to the City Council in November, is one of five members targeted for recall by a conservative group called Save Surf City.
(Scott Smeltzer / Times Community News)

An attempted recall of five members of the Huntington Beach City Council has hit a snag, and petitioners may have to start over from scratch on a majority of their efforts.

Conservatives who formed a group called Save Surf City did not meet a paperwork deadline on their recall attempts of Mayor Kim Carr, Dan Kalmick and Mike Posey, three of the five council members targeted by the group.

Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau informed recall proponent Russell Neal in a message late last week that the group had 10 days to file two blank petition documents and proof of publication, following the response of each City Council member to a notice of intention to circulate recall petitions.

The five members, also including Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize and Natalie Moser, were served the notices during the City Council meeting on Aug. 3. Posey filed an answer on Aug. 6, followed by Carr and Kalmick on Aug. 9.

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The petition documents and proof of publication for Posey, Carr and Kalmick were filed with the city clerk’s office on Aug. 20 — at least a “day short,” Estanislau said in her message.

“On Aug. 10, I provided you dates and delivery methods pertaining to each answer filed, and indicated necessary steps to file petition documents within 10 days,” Estanislau wrote to Neal.

As for Delgleize and Moser, their responses to the notice were filed on Aug. 10, so the petitions against those two, having been filed on Aug. 20, met the deadline. But those petitions need minor alterations, Estanislau wrote to Neal.

The group has 10 days to make those tweaks before the revised petition can be approved by the city clerk’s office, and the recall proponents can start collecting signatures.

A man speaks at a meeting
Russell Neal speaks during a recent Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
(Screencap by Matt Szabo)

Save Surf City put out a statement largely accusing Estanislau of attempting to hinder the recall effort. She did not return messages seeking comment.

A representative from Save Surf City, who did not give his or her name, said in an email that the group plans to move forward on recall efforts of all five council members.

But the group will have to dedicate more money to republishing the petitions for Carr, Kalmick and Posey in a local newspaper, among other expenses.

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Kalmick said in a phone interview Friday that he notified Estanislau that the petitions were late on the morning of Aug. 20.

“It’s not the city clerk’s job to help them or facilitate a recall,” Kalmick said.

“Her job’s to hand them the instructions, and if they have questions, they need to hire legal counsel. Her job is to effectively just file paperwork, and explain if that paperwork is correct or incorrect. I don’t know where they’re coming from when they’re saying that it’s Robin’s fault that they missed their deadline, when the code is extremely clear that they have 10 days to file after our response.”

Kalmick said he believed that the attempt to recall himself and his four colleagues “has been baseless from the start.”

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“We’ve gotten a lot of support that we’re grateful for from the community, the residents of Huntington Beach,” he said.

“We’re looking forward, hopefully, to getting back to work here without the distractions of this recall. This is a partisan witch hunt, and it has nothing to do with anything we’ve actually done on council. It’s an abuse of the recall process.”

Thirteen former members of the council who agree with Kalmick that the recall effort is without merit wrote a commentary piece for the Daily Pilot titled “Save Surf City from disinformation.”

In it, they beseech Huntington Beach voters not to sign a recall petition if it is placed in front of them.

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“The petitions to remove and replace the council members have failed to produce any persuasive arguments in favor of recall. These recalls are nothing more than a publicity stunt, haphazardly thrown together by a group of political opportunists seeking to politically profit at the expense of the Huntington Beach resident and taxpayer,” they wrote in part.

The next Huntington Beach City Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7.

Szabo writes for Times Community News.


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