Recalling politicians via special elections used to happen only under extreme circumstances, usually when an elected official was clearly acting unethically or illegally.
These days, recalls are used as a political tool. One current high-profile case is in Wisconsin, where controversial first-term governor Scott Walker faces a recall election in the next few months.
And of course, Gray Davis got run out of the California governor’s mansion in 2003 following the state’s Enron-inflated electricity crisis.
A fresh recall is trying to take hold right here in the Bay Area, too. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, elected in the 2010 debut of the new ranked-choice voting system, is now facing a signature drive to put her back on the ballot this fall.
While Quan isn’t charged with breaking any laws, she enraged voters in Oakland and citizens around the country with how she handled the Occupy protests last October. Under her orders, police used tear gas and batons to disperse protestors in the plaza.
One protestor named Scott Olsen, a war veteran, was hospitalized with a skull fracture.
The mayor’s team saw several high-profile resignations following that debacle.
Quan has also come under fire for having a contentious relationship with “unpaid legal advisor” Dan Siegel when he represented the mayor’s office on various legal matters.
Quan isn’t sitting back and waiting for the bad news. Matier & Ross reported that 21,000 Oakland voters were sent a glossy, campaign-style mailer entitled “Oakland on the Rise – State of the City, Mayor Jean Quan.”
Still, it’s not certain whether Quan’s opponents — organized as the Committee to Recall Mayor Quan Now — will have the 19,000 signatures they need before June 1 in order to force her to run again.
If the recall is successful, Quan will face at least two opponents in November, including Joe Tuman, who came in fourth in the 2010 mayoral race.
Then it would be up to the voters to judge whether there’s a legitimate case for recalling Quan — or if this is just a political stunt.