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Local recall effort of Oceanside councilwoman falls short

OCEANSIDE — A citizen-led attempt to oust the city’s newest council member has failed after coming 52 signatures short of the required amount.

Back in May, a notice of intent to petition was filed in an effort to recall Councilmember Kori Jensen from her recently appointed seat on the Oceanside City Council. Earlier this year, Jensen was appointed to represent District 1 by a majority council vote.

The petition needed to collect 4,484 signatures from voters in District 1, a figure that is based on the number of registered voters in the district.

Proponents of the petition were upset by Jensen’s appointment, claiming that she wasn’t actually an Oceanside resident and lived at one of her properties in Carlsbad. Jensen used 815 N. Pacific Street as her permanent address on her application for the council position, though she had also previously listed the address as a short-term vacation rental.

In May, recall proponents filed a notice of intent to petition and eventually submitted thousands of signatures on Sept. 11 to City Clerk Zeb Navarro. Navarro counted 6,074 signatures before sending it to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters for verification.

The Registrar of Voters subsequently determined only 5,959 valid signatures had been submitted.

“The initial and very rough count we did of the signatures when they were submitted was not accurate,” Navarro said via email. “We counted them once and did not audit our count. The ROV does a thorough audit of their process and they have the accurate count.”

Of those 5,959 signatures, only 4,432 were valid — just 52 signatures shy of the amount to force a recall election. If the petition effort had obtained its required amount of signatures, the City Council would have had 14 days to call an election.

Of the 1,527 invalid signatures, 181 were duplicates, but the Registrar of Voters did not yet disclose what was wrong with the rest. Navarro said reasons for invalid signatures can range from those of non-registered voters to individuals living outside of the district.

Navarro will be meeting with proponents and the Registrar of Voters sometime this week to determine the reasons behind why more than 1,500 signatures were invalid.

Jensen said she is happy to put the recall petition behind her so she can focus on her district’s needs.

“We have a lot of important issues going on now and my focus needs to be on my community,” Jensen said.

In a Facebook post, resident and recall proponent Diane Nygaard said she is disappointed by the outcome. She also thanked the “6,000 residents” of the district who signed the petition.

“Win or lose, fighting for democracy and the people’s right to vote is always worth the effort,” Nygaard said.