Recall Launched Against Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz
The launch of a recall campaign in Escondido is complicated by the fact that the city is in the middle of transitioning from citywide elections to district elections.
Escondido residents in the newly drawn third district say Councilwoman Olga Diaz, a liberal, does not represent their conservative views. They have served her with documents, informing her they intend to launch a recall.
Diaz, who is the only liberal, the only woman and the only Latina on the Escondido City Council, was elected in a citywide vote two years ago, and has another two years to serve. But in November, she is running against incumbent Mayor Sam Abed to challenge him for the city’s top spot.
Robroy Fawcett, a leader of the recall effort, said if Diaz wins the mayor’s seat in November, he believes a recall vote will ensure that her council successor will be elected, rather than appointed by the city council. He hopes to collect enough signatures to put the recall on the November ballot, thus avoiding a special election.
Diaz said she plans to respond to the recall complaint by Monday, but the legal standing of the recall is still in question, and if it becomes a special election, it could cost the city $300,000.
“It may be a fun exercise for him to go through,” she said, “but it’s a very costly exercise for the city to indulge, certainly when there’s no allegation of any wrongdoing. He just doesn’t like the concept of districts.”
Escondido’s move to districtwide elections was the result of a California voting rights lawsuit, that showed the city’s Latino population was not represented fairly on the council.
New district lines were drawn up last year. But Diaz said the recall proponents are under a misapprehension, because the districts do not actually go into effect until after a districtwide election for a new city councilperson.
Escondido’s city attorney, Jeff Epp, said this is a fascinating legal question. He currently is reviewing legal precedent to see whether the recall campaigners need to collect signatures from 20 percent of the district — about 2,800 people — or a percentage of the citywide registered voters — more than 9,000 people — to qualify a recall for the ballot.
Epps said he should issue a decision in the next couple of days.