A group of about 40 volunteers will begin collecting signatures on Monday to recall Irvine Mayor Christina Shea and Councilman Mike Carroll.
The recall petition, which the city approved on Dec. 27, states that Shea and Carroll have been stalling the progression of a long-awaited veteran’s cemetery due to their connection with housing developer FivePoint Holdings.
Kevork Abazajian, a UC Irvine professor and former Irvine City Council candidate, and Harvey Liss, a former planning commissioner, are largely behind the petition, though others are involved.
“They are not acting in the interests of residents and voters in getting the veteran’s cemetery to happen,” Abazajian said.
Shea and Carroll are up for reelection in 2020. Abazajian said he is not currently planning to run for a council seat in the next election.
The council members have denied any stalling tactics with the cemetery.
“This recall is clearly a political maneuver aimed at diminishing our credibility in that election,” Shea said.
Shea also said a recall election would cost the city’s taxpayers.
“This unwarranted recall effort will not only create a duplicate election in 2020, but could also cost the City nearly 1 million dollars,” she said.
Carroll could not be reached for comment by press time, but he had responded earlier to the petition, which was filed in mid-November, with an official rebuttal that is included in the finalized petition document.
“FACT: this petition forces a $910,000 ‘Duplicate Election’ in mid to late 2020—but, my Council seat is ALREADY ON THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT!” Carroll wrote. “The last thing Irvine needs is another wasteful election, supported by those who demonize Irvine’s residents and attack Irvine’s values.”
The location of the planned veteran’s cemetery has been the subject of controversy in Irvine for many years.
Many residents want the cemetery to be at the original location chosen by officials in 2014 at the site of the old Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. But in 2017, another site was proposed, with FivePoint offering a land swap deal that was eventually voted down by Irvine residents in the 2018 primary elections.
In July, the council voted to build the cemetery on land that was slated to be a golf course in the Great Park. FivePoint said it would pay $28 million towards the project.
The petition also takes umbrage with Shea and Carroll being “unelected” to their current positions.
The council appointed Carroll, a former planning commissioner, to fill a vacant position in May and Shea to the mayoral vacancy left in April after former Irvine Mayor Don Wagner assumed a role on the county’s Board of Supervisors. Shea was first elected to the council in 1992.
“Mike Carroll and I both assumed our positions in accordance with the City Municipal Code and intend to run for office in the November 2020 election,” Shea said.
Supporters of the recall will have to collect at least 13,180 signatures — 10% of the city’s registered voters — by June 4 in order to move the recall forward.