An effort to recall Dennis Mills, the supervisor for District 4 in Calaveras County, has been declared “insufficient” because hundreds of signatures were declared invalid, Calaveras County elections staff said.
People trying to recall Mills submitted 2,125 signatures in June, and they needed a minimum 1,555 to be declared valid. They had 1,462 valid signatures.
Jeremy Maddux, who helped organize the effort to recall Mills, said Wednesday he and other proponents were 90 signatures short, with 175 duplicate signatures and more than 450 signatures determined invalid. Maddux said he and others plan to challenge the finding in court and other venues.
Mills, one of three elected Calaveras County supervisors targeted for recall in the past year, sounded relieved Wednesday, but he didn’t declare any kind of victory.
“If it’s over it’s over,” Mills said in a phone interview. “Even during the recall we weren’t looking over our shoulder whether this was going to succeed or fail. We continued to do what we needed to do. I'm glad it's over. I'd like to thank those who put in the effort to support me during the recall, and I’m going to continue to do the job I was elected to do.”
Recall petition signatures may be considered invalid for multiple reasons, Robin Glanville, assistant clerk-recorder, said Wednesday. Some of those reasons are:
• If a voter is not registered in the county/district of the targeted elected official.
• If a voter is registered but lives outside of the district in question.
• If a voter requested in writing before the petition was filed to have their signature withdrawn.
• If a voter registered after signing the petition, the signature is not valid.
• If a voter prints a residence address on the petition that is different from the address in the voter’s file.
Earlier this year, efforts to recall Gary Tofanelli, supervisor for District 1, and Jack Garamendi, supervisor for District 4, failed because recall proponents in each case did not turn in any signatures by their separate deadlines.
If anybody wants to try to recall Mills or any other elected official again, they must start from scratch by serving the officer sought for recall with a notice of intent, and filing that notice and proof of service with the county elections office.
An ongoing debate about commercial cannabis and the current ban on commercial cannabis have been central issues in recent recall efforts in Calaveras County. Supervisors supporting the final vote to ban in January were Tofanelli, Mills and Clyde Clapp, District 5. Garamendi and Mike Oliveira, District 3, voted against the ban.
Jack Cox, a veteran political consultant who lives in Copperopolis and supports Mills, said he opposes the recall trend in Calaveras County.
“From the right or the left, its anathema to a Republican, smaller, form of government,” Cox said Wednesday. “People disagreed with Jack Garamendi and Dennis Mills. If you disagree, go back to the polls at the next election and vote them out. This total mistrust, these internecine conflicts, they're counterproductive for everyone involved.”
Cox also said he believed people trying to recall Mills gathered some signatures under false pretenses, by misrepresenting the language on the actual recall petition, and implying Mills supported Gov. Jerry Brown’s policies like the gas tax.
“They have to stick to the language on their original petitions that states why they want to recall,” Cox said. “A lot of people were confused after they signed.”
A copy of the petition to recall Dennis Mills released by Calaveras County elections staff on Tuesday has a section that includes, “The grounds for the recall are as follows: Dennis Mills has brought a personal agenda to his office and demonstrated a blatant disregard for the health and safety of Calaveras County, its citizens, and businesses. His crusade for a ban of commercial cannabis has invited devastating lawsuits against the county that can result in bankruptcy.”
The grounds for recalling Mills listed on the petition do not mention a gas tax.
Another section of the petition to recall Mills includes, “The answer of the officer sought to be recalled is as follows: This recall is driven by commercial marijuana interests that disagree with the decision to ban all commercial growing. Calaveras County is not broke, we are AA Bond rated with dedicated reserves and investments exceeding many other California counties similar in size.”
Strong voter feelings about cannabis were a factor when Clapp got elected in the successful recall of Steve Kearney, the District 5 supervisor, in November 2016. As the winner of an election to replace a recalled candidate, Clapp is serving a shortened term, and that is why he is up for reelection in November. Oliveira is also up for reelection in November.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.