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Though one group is out, two mayoral recall efforts still gathering signatures

on March 6, 2012

One of the groups trying to recall Mayor Jean Quan from office suspended operations on Monday. That leaves at least two groups left, but that doesn’t mean the recall effort has become any less confusing.

The Recall Jean Quan and Restore Oakland Committee announced Monday that it will not be able to collect the 20,000 valid signatures necessary for a recall election by the City Clerk’s deadline of May 14. That leaves the Committee to Recall Mayor Quan Now, led by former mayoral candidate Greg Harland, as well as another unnamed group led by Gene Hazzard, an Oakland Post photographer and member of the Oakland Black Caucus, and Terence Candell, another former mayoral candidate.

Harland’s group had its petition validated by the city clerk in January, and the group has until July 2 to collect its 20,000 signatures. Candell said that his group, which had its petition validated by the Oakland City Clerk on December 7, is “alive and well,” and that the 20 or so people volunteering have collected more than 5,000 signatures. That gives his group the same deadline as The Recall and Restore group—May 14.

“I’m going to continue to work on this and stand up for what’s right in regards to getting rid of this inept mayor,” Candell said.

The Recall and Restore group, which called it quits this week, began calling for Quan’s recall in November. According to Charles Pine, a member of the Recall and Restore Committee, Quan should be removed from office after a first year in office that included rising crime rates and the resignation of key city officials like Chief of Police Anthony Batts and City Attorney John Russo, and her handling of Occupy Oakland.

“The people of Oakland have made it quite clear they’re not happy with direction of the city,” Pine said.

Pine said some members of Recall and Restore have joined Harland’s group, and are focusing now on the July 2 deadline. Recall and the Restore “endorses” Harland’s group, he said. Pine said his group collected “several thousand” signatures, without specifying an exact amount, and those are not transferable to the other petition.

“Between now and July 2, the question is, ‘Will there be a petition that gives us a recall election?’” Pine said.

One of the most confusing aspects of the multiple efforts to recall is sorting out who is involved with which group. According to Pine, Hazzard was a part of a group of about 70 people, including Recall and Restore members, who signed the first petition last November. It became known as Hazzard’s petition, Pine said, because Hazzard was “the one who walked up the stairs to the city clerk’s office so by that circumstance it sort of came to be called ‘the Gene Hazzard petition.’”

Now, it really is Hazzard’s petition, as his group will push on without Recall and Restore, Candell said.

Candell said the demise of Recall and Restore is hardly a blow to his group being able to collect the necessary signatures by May 14.  “Nothing has changed,” he said. “What it does is take out the question of who is behind the first petition.

Meanwhile, a group of Quan’s supporters have formed a group opposed to the recall called “Stand With Oakland, Stop the Recall.” That group has been setting up booths at farmer’s markets and meeting regularly, as well as organizing house parties where people can meet the mayor.

Pamela Drake, the director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement district who is working to stop the recall, said the Stand With Oakland group is made up of “grassroots neighborhood folks, business people, various faith and church groups.”

Drake said not enough attention is focused on the good work Quan has done in her year in office. Drake cited Quan’s work in reaching out to community members, saving jobs during the budget crisis, her “100 block” crime plan which plans to focus more police resources on the city’s highest-crime areas, and the mayor’s promotion of local businesses.

“Rather than being negative, we like to take the positive,” Drake said. “We feel like people aren’t aware as much as they should be of all the good work that she’s been able to accomplish and how hard she’s working.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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