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Commentary: Save Surf City from disinformation

Huntington Beach City Council members and meeting attendees stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Huntington Beach City Council members and meeting attendees stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday, June 1 during the first in-person City Council meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

As former council members and mayors of Huntington Beach, some conservative, some liberal, and many in between, we understand that though we may have spirited debates about the best path forward for our city, our different perspectives and visions make our community collectively stronger, not weaker. Having all previously taken an oath to defend the city of Huntington Beach, the City Charter, and our fellow residents, we request that you do not support or sign any petition in support of the current City Council recall.

While we vigorously discuss and deliberate over key issues facing Huntington Beach both in the Council Chambers and throughout the Surf City community, and though we do not always come to an agreement, at the end of the day, we have always respected the outcome and sought to continue to move the ball forward. That is the way of democracy. However, as you may know, a perilous political undercurrent seeks to subvert the people’s electoral judgement in Huntington Beach as six of the seven City Council members were served recall papers at their Aug. 3 meeting.

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. Not only does the disorganization of the recall proponents point to a lack of seriousness and direction, and garner little possibility of reaching the ballot, these recall campaigns are disheartening and distracting from the real work and business of the City Council. One of the petitions has already been suspended by the city clerk because the proponents failed to read the state’s rules for recall.

In a scathing editorial, the O.C. Register labeled the Huntington Beach recall bids a “silly effort,” “an ill-defined hissy fit,” and “a waste of time.” We believe one local resident in a letter to the Daily Pilot eloquently sums up the state of the recall petitions in the following: “This is an effort forged from manufactured grievance and a desire for political retribution, and it lacks even the slightest hint of credibility, good faith or actual desire to benefit Huntington Beach.”

We recognize that recall is a vital process in the protection of democratic principles. However, it is to be applied with caution and care as a last resort, such as when elected officials engage in criminal activity or breach their covenant with the people. The proponents of these recalls have failed to provide any tangible evidence that real crime or treachery is occurring; instead, their only complaints are false policy narratives and that their preferred candidate in the recent City Council appointment process was not chosen.

We ask you to not sign any petition in support of this recall, and above all else, we encourage you to do your own research. Please talk to your friends, neighbors and elected officials. Please watch, attend and speak up at City Council meetings and community events. We are a stronger city when we passionately, yet civilly, share and debate the issues and possible solutions for a better Surf City with each other.

The only way these political agitators and bullies will succeed is if the vast majority of residents roll over and acquiesce. We hope you will join us in rejecting disinformation and these undemocratic attacks on our most sacred institutions.

Ralph Bauer served on the City Council from 1992 to 2000 and as mayor in 1996-97.

Connie Boardman served on the City Council from 2000 to 2004 and from 2010 to 2014 and as mayor in 2002-03 and 2012-13.

Keith Bohr served on the City Council from 2004 to 2012 and as mayor in 2008-09.

Patrick Brenden served on the City Council from 2016 to 2020.

Debbie Cook served on the City Council from 2000 to 2008 and as mayor in 2001 and 2007-08.

Shirley Dettloff served on the City Council from 1994 to 2000 and as mayor in 1997-98.

John Erskine served on the City Council from 1986 to 1990 and as mayor in 1987-88.

Peter Green served on the City Council from 1988 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2004 and as mayor in 1990-91 and 1998-99.

Jill Hardy served on the City Council from 2002 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2020 and as mayor in 2004-05 and 2014-15.

Tom Harman served on the City Council from 1994 to 2000.

Vic Leipzig served on the City Council from 1993 to 1996 and as mayor in 1994-95.

Linda Moulton-Patterson served on the City Council from 1990 to 1994 and as mayor in 1993-94.

Grace Winchell served on the City Council from 1986 to 1994 and as mayor in 1992-93.

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