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Several North County officials face recall elections

REGION — Recalls and special elections appear to be in vogue this season around North County as four local efforts are underway in different jurisdictions.

Alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election later this year, Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher was served and responded to her Notice of Intention (NOI) for a recall effort in District 1. Newly appointed Oceanside Councilwoman Kori Jensen has also been served a recall notice, along with Vista Unified School District Trustee Martha Alvarado in Area 3.

More recently, Trustee Ty Humes, who was appointed to replace Kristin Gibson in Area 5 on the San Dieguito Union High School District board, is facing removal efforts courtesy of a local teacher’s union. On May 12, The Coast News reported the San Dieguito Faculty Association had collected enough signatures to force a special election for Humes’ seat.

In Carlsbad, the recall campaign against Schumacher began on April 5 after conservative radio host Carl DeMaio held a rally at Pine Avenue Community Park in Carlsbad to announce the recall.

According to the Carlsbad City Clerk’s office, the petition has been approved for circulation. Organizers must collect about 3,800 signatures to place Schumacher on the recall ballot.

“Councilmember Cori Schumacher’s misconduct has created a toxic and hostile environment at Carlsbad City Hall – and we must remove her from office so the city can move past the mess she has created,” DeMaio said.

In the NOI, the petitioners list a number of issues, along with DeMaio’s speech in April, for why Schumacher should be removed from office, including harsh enforcement and penalties on businesses during the pandemic, fighting against reopening schools and violating the constitutional rights of three men.

The subsequent court hearings found Schumacher liable for First Amendment violations and she was ordered to pay more than $49,000 in attorney’s fees to Larry Posner, Tony Bona and Noel Breen. Breen’s case to recoup attorney’s fees is still ongoing as his attorney, Scott Talkov has a motion before the court for an additional $7,500.

Carl DeMaio
Republican radio host Carl DeMaio launched a recall campaign against Carlsbad City Councilwoman Cori Schumacher during a rally on April 5 in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski

Talkov said he received his payment of $14,997.85 from the April 9 hearing courtesy of Schumacher’s campaign, which was one of four entities named in the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) granted by the court against Schumacher.

“Carlsbad City Councilmember Cori Schumacher created a toxic environment in our city and must be recalled from office before more damage can be done,” the NOI reads.

Schumacher’s response, though, slammed the recall effort saying it would be a “wasteful” use of taxpayer money and could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, which would be better spent on economic and community recovery.

Schumacher has encouraged residents to reject the “reckless” recall while listing her accomplishments in office, such as expanding homeless response, programs and public safety; increased transparency at City Hall; instituting campaign contribution limits; expanding the parks and trails system; implementing the city beach lifeguard program; creating the Clean Energy Alliance; and launching the Village and Barrio pedestrian lighting and traffic calming measures.

And while the City Council approved campaign contribution limits earlier this year, there are no spending limits for recall campaigns.

“It saddens me to see this kind of deceitful and partisan politics being fostered in Carlsbad,” Schumacher said in her response. “I hope the people of District 1 see through these efforts to thwart the good work we continue to do together.”

In Vista, the recall effort against Alvarado has implicated the North County Parents Association, although the group denies any involvement with the campaign. According to sources, Alvarado’s recall campaign was initiated by parents as a grassroots effort and not associated with any group.

However, the situation became contentious after a group backing Alvarado, the BIPOC Educators Association North County San Diego, accused the parent group of directing its members to racially target members of the BIPOC community. The BIPOC group has since retracted the accusation.

However, the BIPOC group still maintains North County Parents Association has not publicly condemned hate speech and violence and has called for an apology from the group.

The North County Parent Association issued the following statement: “The Parent Association has never racially targeted or harassed ANY school board member or any other individual, ever. Furthermore, none of our Directors or Co-Directors have ever racially targeted or harassed any school board member. The Parent Association condemns and will not tolerate racist or xenophobic.”