City Council approves more time to gather signatures for recall elections
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A City Council committee Monday approved allowing more time to gather signatures for a recall election and widening the window during which a special election would be held.
The recommendations green-lighted by the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee and sent to the City Council for its consideration are part of a larger effort to streamline the recall process, stemming from last year’s effort to remove then-Mayor Bob Filner from office.
“This is something we’ve been cleaning up over the last year bit-by-bit,” Councilman Mark Kersey said. The Filner recall effort revealed “inconsistencies in the city’s own rules,” he said.
The current recall procedure in the San Diego municipal code allows recall proponents 39 days to collect signatures, the ability to continue gathering names while signatures are being verified and to have a 30-day supplemental period to get more people to sign-on if the initial effort falls short.
The proposal from the City Clerk’s Office calls for 99 days to circulate a petition but no supplemental period.
If enough signatures are collected, current rules call for a vote no earlier than 60 days but no later than 90 days from the time the City Council calls a special election — unless an election for the district, or citywide, is scheduled within about four months.
The proposal would change the timing to no earlier than 90 days and no later than 180 days. The City Clerk’s Office said the change would bring the recall code in line with procedures for a special election if an office is vacated for some other reason.
The changes to be considered by the City Council also include a prohibition on recalling elected officials in the final six months of their terms.
Separately, the committee members also forwarded to the full City Council proposals from the Ethics Commission to close a couple of loopholes in the election law.
Commission Executive Director Stacey Fulhorst said independent committees are using materials produced by a candidate and distributing them on behalf of the campaign that they’re supporting, which circumvents city spending limits. She also said the committees are using credit to create campaign materials and having supporters pay off the debt later, when voters are unaware of who is making the contribution.
Both practices would be banned under her proposals.