At next week’s regular West Hollywood city council meeting scheduled for Monday, August 16, 2021, an item initiated by West Hollywood Mayor Lindsay Horvath will explore adopting a resolution in opposition to the recall election of the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
Organizers of the current recall movement say there are a list of reasons Californians signed their petitions: frustration over Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and business restrictions, worsening housing and homelessness crises, and high taxes and cost of living are on a long list of reasons.
California’s Gubernatorial Recall Election is on Tuesday, September 14th. According to a West Hollywood City Staff report, the California Department of Finance estimates the recall election will cost state and county election officials $276 million to administer. The costs are much higher than previous recall elections because every voter in the state will receive a vote- by-mail ballot, as well as options to vote in-person.
“Over the past year and a half California has faced unprecedented challenges,” reads the report. “The state continues to grapple with the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. As new variants arise, the future of the pandemic remains uncertain. As we face this global crisis, it is irresponsible for the state and counties to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a recall election that is politically motivated. Amidst the global pandemic, California has adopted the biggest economic recovery package in the state’s history. The money being used on the recall election could have been better utilized to focus on the state’s recovery by assisting people with rent relief, unemployment, and covering healthcare costs, or addressing some of the state’s ongoing issues such as homelessness, wildfires, or infrastructure.”
California approved recalls back in 1911. 179 attempts have been made against state officeholders, and every governor since 1960 has faced as least one. Recall elections have become highly politicized and rather than serving to remove someone who is unfit for office, recalls have been a tool to undermine the will of the people and remove someone from office who was fairly elected by a majority of the voters.
The ballot will have two questions:
1. Should the elected official be removed from office?
2. If the official is removed, who should take their place?
If more than 50% of voters answer “yes” to the first question on the recall ballot, the candidate who wins the most votes in the second question will become governor. This means if a majority of California voters want to recall the governor, he will be removed from office and replaced with someone who will likely receive less than 50% of the vote. This process undermines our democracy and perpetuates a dangerous precedent of electing a governor with potentially a small percentage of the vote.
The next regularly scheduled gubernatorial election in California will take place on June 7 (primary) and November 8 (general) in 2022. The fiscally responsible and democratically appropriate course of action would have been for the governor’s opponents to wait for the 2022 election cycle to vote for an alternative candidate.
The last California gubernatorial recall to reach an election was in 2003. On September 15, 2003, the City Council passed a similar resolution in opposition to the recall election. At the time, the City Council believed the recall established a dangerous precedent for eroding the electoral process. The Council also argued the $67 million on the special election could have been better spent on education, healthcare, and public safety.