The race is on between two groups trying to recall Oakland mayor Jean Quan.
On Monday, the city attorney said it was legal for two recall efforts to proceed independently of each other. (Read pdf of the legal opinion here.) One of the efforts is led by former mayoral candidate Greg Harland, who says Quan hasn’t done enough to create jobs. The other is led by Oakland Black Caucus member Gene Hazzard, who is angry the mayor did not re-appoint popular West Oakland activist Margaret Gordon to the port commission. (The Oakland Black Caucus has said Hazzard does not speak for the group on the recall issue.) Hazzard's petition has already been certified; Harland filed his paperwork Tuesday.
Both are banking on voters’ general dissatisfaction to obtain the nearly 20,000 signatures required to put the recall on the ballot. “The voter registrar does not count the reason,” Hazzard said. “They count the signature.”
Yesterday, within 40 minutes of setting up a table outside City Hall, Hazzard collected signatures from people concerned about public safety, a city employee, and Occupy Oakland organizers like CJ Summers.
“[The Mayor] is definitely a big part of the problem here in Oakland, and this is just one step towards making this a better place, as far as I see it,” Summers said.
Harland, the organizer of the other recall campaign, says he split from Hazzard because of a disagreement over tactics. “As we started to submit the petition to the city clerk, it kept getting kicked out for revisions, for mistakes,” Harland said. Harland has hired a lawyer to help draft the wording and plans to pay professional signature gatherers, while Hazzard has taken a do-it-yourself approach, relying on volunteers. Harland questions the legal legitimacy of the Hazzard petition and worries it might not stand up.
Several groups and community leaders have come out against the recall, including the Alameda County Labor Council and members of the Chinatown business community. Sue Piper, a spokeswoman for Mayor Quan, said the recall is a distraction and that the mayor remains focused on her 100-block initiative aimed at reducing crime in the city’s most violent areas.
The first petition to gain nearly 20,000 signatures will go before voters and get its wording on the ballot. The deadlines for both to collect the required amount of signatures are in May. If the recall makes it to the ballot, in the same election voters would also choose a new mayor. It’s unclear whether the recall vote would occur in a special election or if it could piggyback on a scheduled election.
Quan's approval rating has taken a beating amid the Occupy Oakland protests. A Dec 8 poll found just 19 percent of Oakland voters approved of the job she was doing as mayor. The same poll found 47 percent approve of the recall drive, with 34 percent disapproving.