Words alone cannot do justice to the outstanding accomplishment these volunteers were able to achieve in such a short amount of time.
I would argue that the key to a successful recall is this kind of dedication.
We caught our opponents off guard. They attempted to circulate their own petition late on Sunday, but were ill prepared and soon realized it. We waited outside of City Hall all night long to ensure our petition was first in.
Every signature counted. Even a counter-petition with a few hundred signatures could have derailed our efforts. We then had to painstakingly wait for our signatures to be verified by elections officials. A few days later, I was able to call the leadership of the team and give them the joy and relief that their hard work had paid off.
We had qualified a recall election against all three of the majority. Now we had to get ready for the ‘easy’ part, an actual election.
The election took place in August of 2011. The momentum was clearly on our side. Once we won the petition phase of the fight, people starting coming out of the woodwork and supporting our cause. We were able to fundraise money and run a real, respectable campaign.
It was important for us to present and endorse three people we felt qualified to replace the council members we wanted out of office. We felt we owed that to the taxpayers who were about to pay for this special recall election.
We had a stellar grassroots campaign; we endorsed three candidates we felt were independent of any political group in the city or county. We combined our grass roots efforts with theirs and canvassed the entire city of Hughson five times before the election. For such a small town, you would have thought we were running a campaign for statewide office.
We had people making phone calls everyday and walking the streets everyday. We had street-side rallies and public meetings in order to reach the voters any way we could. By the end of election night, we had recalled Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley with over 89% of the vote. All three of our endorsed candidates were elected by wide margins as their replacements. It was the very definition of hard work paying off.
Recall elections are difficult for proponents to win. And they should be.
Recall has always been at the front of a widely debated political question. Should an elected official vote their own opinions or perform as a delegate and vote according to the majority of people in which they represent? I do not know the answer to that question, nor do I claim to.
However, I do know that recalls can be the responsible action of an empowered electorate.
When an elected official at any level clearly acts in the wrong, they should be corrected. If they are unwilling to change their ways despite a majority of people expressing their concerns, they should be reprimanded. If they are unapologetic and disrespectful when proven to be in the wrong, then it is the people’s democratic duty to hold them accountable.
If people turn a blind eye and choose not to hold their government accountable, then they are endorsing the very actions they reject.