Mayor Quan responds to residents filing for her recall
on November 2, 2011
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released an official statement Monday about the efforts of Oakland residents to recall her, saying that the city did not need a “divisive and expensive” recall election and listing her accomplishments during her 294-day tenure as mayor.
“Oaklanders know me as a woman of action, fighting hard and delivering results,” she wrote.
Last week a group of 71 Oakland residents filed a petition to recall Quan, writing that she had “willfully ignored the city’s most pressing issue: public safety.” The registrar of voters certified 56 of the signatures as those of registered voters in Oakland, allowing the petitioners to continue to the next step in the recall process. This involves submitting a legal notice of the petition to the city clerk’s office within 10 days. The notice would give the petitioners another 160 days to collect about 19,800 signatures on the petition, or approximately 10 percent of registered Oakland voters.
In her statement, Quan addressed the petitioners’ assertions that she had not been able to address crime. She wrote that during her tenure, she had negotiated pension reforms to rehire 36 police officers; secured a federal grant for 25 more officers; developed a crime reduction plan focused on the 100 blocks of Oakland where the most crime occurs; and held a safety summit and multiple town hall meetings with over 1,000 participants.
Regarding the petitioners’ allegations that she has not done enough for port redevelopment, she said she had both led regional and international meetings to help the port’s operations, and had also led China trade missions. She wrote that she had secured an agreement on a $400 million development to bring federal and state grants to the port and create 3,000 jobs.
Gene Hazzard, who collected the original 71 signatures supporting Quan’s recall, said the mayor’s assertion that the recall campaign would be expensive was misleading. “Let it be clear that these are in no way expenses borne by the taxpayer,” he said. “The opponent will have to raise the money. This is not at the city’s expense.”
Hazzard said a major concern for him and other petitioners is the fact that the city’s charter does not address what would happen if the recall should be successful.
The charter does state that the office of the mayor will be filled by the vice-mayor if a vacancy is declared. If less than a year remains in the mayor’s term, and the vice-mayor declines the position, the city council must determine the next mayor through a majority vote of its members. If more than a year of the recalled mayor’s term is left, a special new mayoral election must be within 120 days.
But the charter does not explicitly define “vacancy,” and whether the recalling of a mayor constitutes one, and hence defers to state law in the case of a recall. State law requires that the governing body issue an order that an election be held within 14 days of verifying the signatures on the recall petition. The election itself must be held within 88 to 125 days after the issuance of the order, and can be consolidated with any scheduled regular or special elections.
“Based on what happened with [former California Governor Gray Davis], there could simultaneously be a vote for the mayor’s office,” said Hazzard, referring to the 2003 recall election, during which Davis was replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. “But the state could say, ‘Because you’re a charter city, do what you want.’”
The recall petitioners must collect all their signatures by April 2012, 160 days after filing the notice of intent. “In 20 years of serving Oakland, my only agenda has been to work hard for our diverse city,” wrote Quan, addressing her constituents. “I consider it a sacred trust.”
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