There are some important facts about the Recall Mayor Jean Quan effort that voters should be aware of before they sign the recall petition:

  1. The Recall Election will be a Special Election, not part of the November 2012 election. State law dictates the rules of the recall because the Oakland City Charter does not have provisions for a recall process.
  2. The timing of the election is also dictated by State law and will be held sometime between mid-August and mid-October 2012 depending on which of the two competing petitions, if any, is successful in gathering the number of valid signatures required (approximately 20,000).
  3. The cost of the Special Election will be between $ 800,000 and 1 MM. It will be followed by another regularly scheduled election in November 2012 at a similar cost.
  4. Special elections normally have a much lower turnout than regularly scheduled meaning that
  5. a smaller proportion of the electorate will decide both the recall issue itself and who the replacement Mayor will be if voters approve the recall of Mayor Quan.
  6. In the Recall election, voters will be asked if Mayor Quan should recalled from office. If more than 50% of those participating in the election vote yes, the Mayor is removed from office.
  7. Voters will also be asked on the same ballot to select a replacement Mayor from a list of candidates who have filed to run for that office. If the Mayor is recalled, the candidate receiving the most votes (a “plurality”) will be the new Mayor. Note: the replacement Mayor does not need to receive a majority of the votes cast, just the highest number.

So the replacement Mayor could be elected with just 15 or 20% of the vote, depending on how many candidates run and how they divide the total vote. Contrast this with Mayor Quan’s election, where she received more than 50% of the votes in the ranked-choice ballot when none of the 10 candidates received anything approaching a majority in the first round, and second and third choice votes were counted.

Does this sound like a good process to you? Should Oakland conduct an expensive single issue election and remove a mayor and select a replacement in a predictably low-turnout electoral process?

Moreover, has Jean Quan done or not done anything that rises to the level of corruption, malfeasance, or dereliction of duty, the normal reasons for removing an official from office? Most voters, even her supporters, recognize some missteps and mistakes, and Quan has apologized for them.

Who among us, or in public office, has not also made mistakes:  Ron Dellums? Jerry Brown? Elihu? Lionel? Barack Obama? Should all of them have faced recall or impeachment for their missteps? Is this how we want to govern our city?

The best way to avoid this train-wreck of an idea is to not sign the petition and avoid exposing Oakland to an expensive, low-participation election that is not fair or wise, and which could saddle Oakland with a Mayor chosen by a small minority of the electorate.  Equally important, it will put Oakland on the slippery slope of recalling officials for policy disagreements, errors whether major or not, and simple political or personal enmity, a factor at work already for some of the leaders of this recall effort.

–Don Link, North Oakland


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