San Bernardino activists get recall effort on November ballot

San Bernardino City Council members in July 2012 as they voted to declare their city bankrupt.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Activists in bankrupt San Bernardino have qualified their effort to recall three city officials this fall, the county registrar of voters has announced.

Voters will decide on Nov. 5 whether to recall Councilmembers John Valdivia and Wendy McCammack and City Atty. James Penman. With the expiring terms of the mayor and three other council members’ posts on the same ballot, voters will have the chance to decide on seven of nine officials targeted for replacement by the activist group San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government.

Mayor Patrick Morris has said he will not seek re-election. The officials whose seats are up this fall are Council members Virginia Marquez, Robert Jenkins and Fred Shorett.

The activists committee launched a “recall them all” campaign last May to “bring attention to the dismal performance” of the elected officials in the city, which declared bankruptcy in July 2012.


To get the recall question on the ballot, proponents were required to collect signatures from 25% of registered voters in each of the districts represented by the targeted council members and from 15% of voters citywide regarding the city attorney.

Last week, a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ordered the city to begin validating recall signatures and threw out an “anti-recall” petition that had been circulating asking voters to remove their signatures. The judge called the petition, advertised as an effort to oppose non-existent water rate increases, “extremely misleading” and “scurrilous.”

Scott Beard, a leader of the recall group, said in a statement issued Friday that the organization was “very pleased that San Bernardino voters will have the opportunity to replace a full seven of the elected officials who are largely responsible for the dismal shape the city is in today.”

[Updated at 2:49 p.m. Aug. 30: The City Council members subject to recall could not be reached for immediate comment Friday, but Penman noted that recall proponents were barely able to get enough signatures despite a vigorous effort that included paid signature-gatherers.


Penman said he was pleased that roughly 84% of voters “refused to believe their lies and refused to sign the petitions.” He added that he was optimistic the recall would not succeed.

The city attorney said the officials targeted by the recall were not the ones responsible for the city’s fiscal problems.]


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