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Save Surf City’s Huntington Beach City Council recall effort fails to get enough signatures

Then-Mayor Kim Carr listens to a candidate during interviews for Huntington Beach's vacant City Council seat last June.
Then-Mayor Kim Carr listens to a candidate during the first of two days of interviews for Huntington Beach’s vacant City Council seat last June. The Orange County Registrar of Voters informed city officials Wednesday the recall petitions against Councilwoman Carr, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and Councilman Dan Kalmick did not meet the minimum signature requirements to trigger a special election.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
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Three Huntington Beach City Council members vowed Thursday to move forward, a day after they learned that a recall effort against them had failed to collect enough valid signatures.

The Orange County Registrar of Voters informed city officials Wednesday that the recall petitions against Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and City Council members Kim Carr and Dan Kalmick did not meet the minimum signature requirements to trigger a special election.

The number recall organizers had to reach was 13,352 signatures, which is 10% of registered voters in the city. After verification, the Registrar found that recall proponent Save Surf City had collected 12,306 valid signatures to oust Carr. There were 12,201 valid signatures on Kalmick’s petition, while Posey’s petition garnered 12,157 valid signatures.

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The petitions were delivered to City Clerk Robin Estanislau on Feb. 23, each containing more than the required 13,352 signatures. But each petition had nearly 2,000 signatures that were invalidated by the county for various reasons, including duplicate signatures and signers who weren’t registered to vote.

The city has to foot the total bill from the Registrar’s office for the counting of the signatures. It cost $3.40 for each signature verified, said Marcia Nielsen, the county‘s candidate and voter services manager, for a total of nearly $144,000.

Dan Kalmick was first elected to the City Council in 2020.
Dan Kalmick was first elected to the City Council in 2020.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Save Surf City proponents pledged to continue the fight, although it was unclear what form that would take.

“Our grassroots citizen-driven effort collected over 100% of the required signatures without any special interest money to pay for signatures,” proponent Cari Swan said in a text message. “We disagree with the O.C. Registrar’s findings and will be challenging them.”

The City Council members, meanwhile, called the recall effort a waste of time and money.

“They wanted to prove a point at taxpayer expense, which is disappointing,” Kalmick said. “They got roughly 9% of the voting electorate of the city. They don’t represent a majority of folks. I got three times the number of votes than they got people to sign petitions ... The great majority of the people in the city agree with the governance that we’ve created and the great forward progress that we’ve made in the city.”

Posey is terming out of his seat this year, as are Mayor Barbara Delgleize and Councilman Erik Peterson. Carr has announced that she is not running for reelection as she pursues a state Senate seat, so four of the seven spots on the dais will be up for grabs.

Recall proponents have said high-density housing was a major concern in the effort, and they were unhappy that the council appointed progressive civil rights attorney Rhonda Bolton last July to fill the empty spot created when Tito Ortiz resigned from his City Council seat.

Save Surf City also made an attempt to recall Delgleize and Councilwoman Natalie Moser but failed to collect enough votes in the six-month period allowed by state law.

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey speaks during a February signing ceremony.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey, an Orange County Power Authority board member, speaks during a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in February.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Carr said she hadn’t been thinking of the recall effort in recent weeks.

“My focus has been doing the good work for the residents, just continuing to do good work,” she said. “That’s it. The residents want us to care for our infrastructure, the parks and playgrounds, addressing homelessness, the cost of living, affordable housing. I mean, these are all of the issues that I hear about all day long. The recall is not what I hear about all day long.

“I am disappointed that the city now has to pay about [$144,000] for this. That’s a lot of money that could go to some very important projects in the city. I’m not happy about that, but I am grateful that we can just continue to focus on what we’re doing and not have any distractions.”

Posey noted that when he was reelected in 2018, he earned more than 34,000 votes, the most of anyone in the election.

“I’m grateful that those voters that put me in office didn’t sign the recall and kept me in office,” he said. “We can dissect the reasons for the recall, but it’s all based on fiction ... They don’t like the results of the election, and they wanted to change the results of the election because they don’t respect what the voters did.”

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