Wednesday Mar 09 2011
Recall process defined
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
Twenty percent of registered voters would need to sign petition
Lincoln resident Bob Birdseye said he plans to follow the recall process outlined by the California Secretary of State “to a T.” He started the process at Tuesday night's City Council meeting by serving three councilmen with notices of intent to recall. Ryan Ronco, the Placer County Office of Elections’ assistant registrar of voters, explained to The News Messenger the process for recalling City Council members. The first step is to issue a notice of intent to recall for each official, according to Ronco. Ronco said the notice of intent is a “statement of 200 words or fewer” about why the recall is being requested, including the names of those to be recalled. The recall notice is forwarded to the Placer County Office of Elections, according to Ronco. The proponent of the recall is served the notice, which happened during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting when Birdseye handed Mayor Paul Joiner and city council members Tom Cosgrove and Spencer Short notices of intent to recall. Joiner, Cosgrove and Short did not comment during the meeting. Cosgrove and Short would not comment Wednesday on the recall; Joiner said he would fight to hold his position. “Once you get past that process of notice and response, then it begins the process of collecting signatures on petitions to see if enough voters want the recall,” Ronco said. Twenty percent of Lincoln’s registered voters would need to sign the petition, according to Ronco. Lincoln city clerk Pat Avila said, as of Feb. 16, Lincoln has 23,876 registered voters. That means 4,775 of Lincoln’s registered voters would have to sign each separate petition for Cosgrove, Joiner and Short.” “Not all petitions may qualify,” Ronco said. “Some petitions may be more or less popular than others. A person may choose to sign one petition for one officer but not the other two.” Birdseye recognizes that this may happen. “The thing is, that’s the voter’s prerogative of whether they want to recall one of the three, two of the three or all three,” Birdseye said. “At this point in time, I would like to have all three recalled and I’ll do everything in my power to make that occur.” Those requesting the recall have 120 days to gather signatures, according to Ronco. Birdseye has until July 7 to gather the signatures. The signed petitions would then be given to the Lincoln city clerk, who would contact the county’s office of elections to verify if the number of signatures collected was sufficient. Ronco said the Placer County Office of Elections then has 30 business days to verify that those who signed are registered voters. Within 14 days of the signatures being verified, Ronco said the City Council has to “give an order that an election will be held.” "The election must be held not less than 88 and not more than 125 days after the issuance of the order," Ronco said. Ronco would not give a price for the special election. He said the city could either hold its own election or contract election services out to the Placer County Office of Elections. “Cost can run anywhere from $2 to $3 per registered voter, all the way up to $8 or $9 per registered voter,” Ronco said. The city covers the cost of the recall election, according to Lincoln City Clerk Pat Avila, which would come out of the internal services fund. Avila said the election could cost double the price of the Nov. 2 election, which was $34,558. She couldn’t say how much the election could cost the city, since it’s not known if the election will be consolidated with another election or on it’s own. “An estimate could be approximated, once we know when the election will take place,” Avila said. “A special election would drive the cost up as opposed to consolidating with another election.” The costs factored into the election are “services of Placer County, which include printing, proofing, mailing and conducting the election,” according to Avila. The News Messenger asked Birdseye if he’s concerned about the cost of the election to the city. “I realize there is going to be a cost to the city associated with it but the City Council and city manager have been costing the city for a long period of time, to the point where the city could be on the verge of bankruptcy within a year or two,” Birdseye said. During the election, Ronco said, voters would have two decisions to make. The ballot would ask voters if they would like to recall each council member and who they would like to replace those council members with if they are recalled. “At the same election is an opportunity for people to run for City Council,” Ronco said.