California Has a Lot of Recall Attempts, and Not Just for Governors

Votes on Tuesday involve the Sonoma County district attorney and two city council members in Vernon.,

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In California, there are recall attempts for everything under the sun.

A memorial to the Battle of La Mesa in Vernon, Calif., which is having its own recall election on Tuesday.
A memorial to the Battle of La Mesa in Vernon, Calif., which is having its own recall election on Tuesday.Credit…RightCowLeftCoast
  • Sept. 12, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ET

While all eyes were on Gov. Gavin Newsom, a developer in Sonoma County was charging forward with an effort to recall the district attorney who had sued his company.

All around California, other officials were facing recall campaigns, too. A member of the Fallbrook Union High School District board of trustees. A councilwoman in Kingsburg. A councilman in Morgan Hill. The mayors of Huntington Beach and Placerville, council members in Huntington Beach and Placerville, school board or board of education members in Chico, Santa Monica, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Elk Grove and oh my goodness, are you tired yet?

Recalls are a dime a dozen in California, and to read through the rationales for them is to confront a deluge of grievances, some serious and others remarkably petty.

The recall efforts are because she voted against resuming full-time in-person schooling. Because of zoning disputes. Because she “has demonstrated a Marxist/socialist agenda.” Because of his homelessness policies. Because she declined to prosecute a police brutality case. Because he ostensibly “lacks mental competence.” Because she was convicted of welfare fraud several years before she was elected.

If history is a guide, most of these campaigns will never come to a vote. But two, in addition to Mr. Newsom’s, will be on the ballot on Tuesday.

The first is in wine country north of San Francisco, and its target is Jill Ravitch, the Sonoma County district attorney. The campaign is led by a local developer, Bill Gallaher, whose company was sued by her office in connection with the abandonment of residents of an assisted-living facility during a 2017 wildfire. (The case was ultimately settled.) Mr. Gallaher, who has said the recall is in service of “steady, competent leadership overseeing public safety in our county,” has bankrolled the campaign himself.

The second is a convoluted saga concerning William Davis and Melissa Ybarra, who are on the City Council in Vernon and had backed a successful recall campaign this year against two other council members who had supported a solar and wind energy project whose developer was involved in an embezzlement investigation.

Now those recalled council members, Diana Gonzales and Carol Menke, are supporting the new recall campaign, alleging — according to The Los Angeles Daily News — that Ms. Ybarra engaged in nepotism as the city’s housing commissioner and that Mr. Davis is mentally incompetent. Ms. Ybarra and Mr. Davis say the campaign is just retaliation.

Before this year of two recall elections, Vernon — a city just southeast of Los Angeles that has a mere 108 residents — had never had one.

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