OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Thursday that efforts to recall her from office are “divisive, expensive and distracting.”
Speaking to reporters at City Hall, Quan said she isn’t paying much attention to the recall efforts and instead will “focus on the major issues facing the city.”
She said her top priority is public safety and she is working with police, prosecutors and probation officials to focus on 100 blocks in Oakland where she said most of its violent crime occurs.
Quan said she also is concentrating on making sure the city complies with a settlement requiring it to make major reforms in its Police Department, as U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said he might put the department under the control of a court-appointed receiver if reforms aren’t completed soon.
She noted that Henderson will hold another hearing on the matter next month.
Quan’s comments came a day after Oakland City Clerk LaTonda Simmons certified a recall petition organized by Oakland Post photographer and Oakland Black Caucus member Gene Hazzard, allowing the group to begin gathering signatures.
KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:
Hazzard’s group, which filed its notice of its intent to recall Quan on Oct. 24, now has 160 days to gather 19,811 signatures from registered Oakland voters to put its proposed recall measure on the ballot. That number represents 10 percent of Oakland’s 198,109 registered voters.
Simmons said a second group filed a notice of intent to recall Quan on Wednesday. She said that must meet certain standards before she can decide whether to certify it.
Oakland Supervising Deputy City Attorney Mark Morodomi, who oversees election issues, said it’s unclear legally whether there could be two recall petitions circulating at the same time.
“This is the first time in my memory that there’s a recall effort in Oakland and this is the first time I’ve heard of two simultaneous recall efforts anywhere,” Morodomi said.
Simmons said if Hazzard’s group gathers the necessary number of signatures and they’re verified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office, the Oakland City Council would schedule an election that would decide two issues: whether Quan should be recalled and if so who should be the city’s new mayor.
Morodomi said another thorny legal issue he must research is whether such an election would be conducted under Oakland’s ranked-choice voting system.
Although the Oakland Charter requires that mayoral elections be done with ranked-choice voting, the city defers to state elections code on recalls.
Hazzard, who attended Quan’s news conference, said Quan “put me over the edge” by not reappointing West Oakland environmentalist Margaret Gordon to the Port of Oakland Commission.
Hazzard said he’s also upset at Quan for what he said was her “dismantling” of a re-entry program that helped the hard-core unemployed get jobs and for squandering an opportunity to shape the large development project at the site of the former Oakland Army Base.
In addition, Hazzard’s recall petition says Quan should be removed from office “because she has willfully ignored the city’s most pressing issue: public safety.”
Quan told reporters that “being mayor of Oakland is really hard” and said she isn’t surprised that recall proponents have “split off” and there are now two recall efforts.
She said, “There are always 20 percent of the people in this city who vote against anything.”
But Hazzard said he’s not concerned that there’s a second group seeking to recall petition.
“There’s only one petition that’s been certified by the city clerk” and that’s his, Hazzard said.
He’s “confident,” he said, that he will be able to gather the signatures he needs to put the recall measure on the ballot.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)