An effort to recall Mayor Ed Lee hit a roadblock last week, as the Department of Elections told a coalition of activists working to remove the mayor from office that it will not process the paperwork necessary to create a recall petition until July. Those leading the recall effort say this is based on a misreading of the city's recall rules, and delaying the process by over a month will make it extremely difficult to gather the 60,000 signatures needed to place the recall on the November ballot.
According to a press release, recall organizers intend to take the DOE to court if it will not certify their filing.
The conflict arises from the San Francisco Department of Elections' interpretation of city rules governing who may or may not be recalled. "[No] recall petition may be initiated with respect to an officer who has held office for less than six months or who has had a recall election determined in his or her favor within the last six months," the rules read. While Ed Lee was appointed as mayor in 2011, and has thus held office for much longer than six months, the Department of Elections says that as we just voted the mayor back into office in November of last year, we can't yet recall him out.
"The Mayoral inauguration occurred on January 8, 2016," reads a letter from DOE's Gregory Slocum addressed to the "Potential Proponents of Mayoral Recall." "As such, no recall petition may be initiated until July 8, 2016, we cannot begin processing your Notice of Intent to Circulate Recall Petition until this date."
This logic is questionable on its face, and a spokesperson for the recall effort, former D-6 candidate David Carlos Salaverry, writes of the group's intention to fight back. "[Today at 4:30 p.m.], we will present our valid Notice of Intent to Recall," he explains via press release. "If DOE refuses to process it, on June 13 after the mandatory 10 day DOE turnaround time, our lawyers will get a court order to force the filing. We will assert that a) the City Attorney’s interpretation of the Charter is in error, b) telling us we must wait till July makes a Nov 2016 recall impossible, c) the City Attorney’s interpretation was made in collusion with a corrupt administration to thwart our constitutional right to recall."
With the threat of legal action from those looking to recall the mayor, this effort looks like it is here to stay. Expect to hear a lot more about it in the coming months as November approaches and activists work to get the measure on the ballot.