What About That Recall Election? It Is Not a Good Idea!

In a democracy, candidates are elected to represent the broad range of beliefs and opinions of those who live in the community. As Mayor, I work with all members of the City Council to try to find common ground on many of the complex issues our community faces. Disagreements and different perspectives are not only to be expected, but provide an opportunity for us to work towards consensus on policies that reflect the broad interests of the entire community. While our elected officials may have very different perspectives and policy beliefs, these differences are not grounds for a recall.

On March 3rd, voters in the City of Santa Cruz will be asked whether or not to recall and remove from office two members of the City Council. Recalls are intended to remove elected officials who commit crimes or who abuse their powers in office. Regular elections, not recall elections, are the way that members of the public are supposed to make clear their various policy priorities. What is happening in this recall is an attempt to preempt and undermine the normal electoral process, and the voters should reject it. The following highlights what is really happening.

Who’s Behind the Recall

On December 4, 2018, after the results of the last City Council election were certified, although the rent control ballot measure (Measure M) did not pass, two candidates who supported rent control were elected. This created a majority on the City Council in favor of protecting tenants, providing affordable housing, and preserving neighborhoods. While there were provisions in Measure M that made it less appealing to many voters, the success of the “No on M” campaign can also be attributed to the enormous amount of funding that came largely from outside real estate investors.

Here are just some of the contributions to the No on M campaign:

  • National Association of Realtors (Chicago, IL) – $287,500
  • California Apartment Association (Sacramento, CA) – $68,000
  • Pacific Shores (Belmont, CA) – $18,450
  • 1010 Pacific Investment (Belmont, CA) – $10,350

For information on all donations please visit:

Many of these outside investors viewed the new majority on the city council as a threat to their investments, especially with Santa Cruz as a site for speculative housing investment, which has resulted in exorbitant housing costs. Given the discussion of Recall of two progressives on sites like NextDoor immediately after the new council was seated, it was only a matter of time before two members of the pro-tenant and affordable housing Council majority were singled out for recall. We now see the same group and outside funds being used towards this recall effort.

Factors to Consider

It is important that we take into consideration the voices of working-class people in our community, not the big money interests that are trying to buy our community and our government. The Council majority, made up of predominantly renters, recently put a stop to the so-called Corridors Plan, which supported very high-density housing development on the east side of the city, putting local neighborhoods in jeopardy. The Council majority has also increased the amount of affordable housing that developers must provide, in order to assure that new housing doesn’t serve only those with high incomes. Additionally, the new council has been working on policies that protect tenants, the environment and novel approaches to addressing homelessness in our community. The Council majority has made the protection of our neighborhoods, local businesses, and tenants one of the highest priorities as additional market rate, luxury housing development is proposed.


The recall election scheduled for March 3rd is extremely divisive and makes it very difficult for City Council Members to cooperate and collaborate successfully. After the adversarial Measure M election, the community needs to heal, not fracture further. While Council Members sometimes disagree on issues, we all share a love of Santa Cruz and the desire to make it the best that it can be for everyone. To succeed, we need to work together. Unfortunately, the recall seriously undermines this effort and our democracy. For the good of our community, the recall should be defeated.

Drew Glover Responds to Santa Cruz United

This is a response to the “Why Recall” page on the Santa Cruz United Website as of September 2019. (source)

(Claim 1a) “Kept the Ross Camp open even after serious public safety and health impacts, including five deaths.”

Misleading: I voted to reform the site to address health and safety issues along with other Councilmembers. Additionally, I alone could not keep the camp open; it required three other votes so to try and use me as a scapegoat is dishonorable and misleading.

(Claim 1b) “They ignored public safety officials who testified that the camp was a public health crisis. 5 Fatalities, 3 Significant fires and 2 people transported to burn units on separate occasions – from declaration of Fire Chief Jason Hajduk in Federal Court.”

Misleading: https://www.kazu.org/post/homeless-deaths-continue-climb-santa-cruz-county#stream/0
We did not ignore any of the officials which is why I voted to retrofit and reform the campsite.

With regards to the deaths, in 2018 there were 55 reports of people who died while experiencing homelessness ranging from 27 years old to 78 years old. That is three more than 2017 and 18 more than in 2016. In 2018 that averaged 4.58 deaths per month. The Ross Camp operated from November 2018 until May 2019 and had 5 recorded deaths, some of which were from natural causes and not substance use. Anyone dying while living outside is unacceptable, but to suggest that there was a higher rate of death in the camp is misleading. What would be more accurate would be to say that those deaths received media coverage because they were in the camp and were therefore more visible than someone who died under a bridge and was quietly taken to the coroner.

(Claim 1c) “The resulting debacle cost the City nearly $1 million – including resources that were diverted from parks and kids programs.”

False: http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/cache/2/cfmqpqcdhtgjrqibti5zg4yy/48810330917201902184128.PDF

It did not cost $1m. This is public information. In a report release August 12th, 2019, City staff from the City Manager’s office in charge of tracing the expenses cite a maximum of $270,000 as a cost to the city with $100,000 of that being reimbursed by the state emergency funds. (see attached images)

the City implemented management services starting in February of 2019 to mitigate those risks. Those management services included: regular refuse removal, sanitation (portable toilets and hand washing stations), fencing to allow continued access to the levee, security provided through First Alarm, wood chip dispersal, and vector control. Homeless Emergency Aid Program dollars were allocated through the Homelessness Action Partnership to reimburse some of the costs associated with management of the Gateway/Ross Encampment. Below is a breakdown of the management costs and reimbursements received: (see attached images)

(Claim 2) “Harassed women on the City Staff. An independent investigation found that Councilmembers Glover and Krohn violated the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy.”

False and misleading: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=77385 (pages 6-7)
There was no harassment. Here are the findings directly from the report. Only 1 out of the 7 claims was substantiated, and it was due to a communication issue combined with the mishandling of the conflict by the other party involved, as they did not come to speak to me first before filing a complaint.

Councilmember Glover:

  • One complaint of a violation of the Administrative Procedure Order Section II #1B, Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy was substantiated.
  • Three complaints of Administrative Procedure Order Section II #1B, Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy were not substantiated.
  • Three complaints of a violation of City Council Policy 25.2 Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy were not substantiated.

(Claim 3) “Councilman Glover proposes new homeless camps and unlimited overnight RV parking in some neighborhoods. A written proposal would allow homeless camps 25 feet from homes, schools, and playgrounds.”

The proposal I brought forward would open up the conversation about distance and proximity to parks, schools, neighborhoods, and property lines based in data-driven results that show they work. Making a proposal and bringing it to my colleagues for discussion is not a reason to recall someone.

(Claim 4) “Floated a crippling transfer tax on local homeowners. Both council members suggested tens of thousands in new taxes on home sales which could hurt home values and harm local residents retirement plans.”

1.5% real estate transfer tax is not “crippling”; it is what Berkeley has and has since generated millions for their city programs and housing development.
13%-15% TOT is not crippling. It makes it so the people coming to enjoy our community pay their fair share to support it.

Bonus unethical content:
(Claim) “Mocking. belittling, speaking as if interrogating an employee while at the dais, implying staff is hiding or providing false information or is deliberately undermining Councilmembers is not acceptable.”

City Human Resource Director Lisa Murphy

Inappropriate and unethical: This quote from the HR Director is used out of context and without the permission of the person who said it. She has since sent an official correspondence to Santa Cruz United requesting that they remove it from their website and their mailing materials. As of writing this post they have not removed said quote.

After Careful Scrutiny …

September 30th, 2019

Reconciliation was not on last week’s city council agenda. Although the complaints of gender harassment and misconduct against council members Glover and Krohn were largely not substantiated by the independent investigator, and conflict resolution recommended, the main item on the council’s evening agenda was to formally censure Krohn and Glover, initiated by council members Meyers and Mathews. It had the predictable effect: further polarization, emotional outbursts and general mayhem.

I’m not easily persuaded that complaints of sexism against two males by five females are without merit or that they are solely politically motivated. I started by believing. Then I read the transcript of the charges and witnesses carefully, many times. I read the investigator’s conclusions. I attended or watched past council meetings where some of the offending behavior was said to occur. I paid close attention to the tearful testimony of the city staff member, whose three young daughters were made to stand by her side as she read her victim impact statement against Glover with passion and conviction. Despite her feelings of being harassed, the investigator did not find that Glover’s behavior violated the city’s workplace misconduct policy. It’s true that Glover and Krohn ask hard, probing questions of staff, who are more used to attaboys from previous councils. Hard questions of staff by elected officials seem appropriate to me. If behind the scenes staff has any problems then surely a heart to heart talk about mutual respect etc. would temper the zeal and grandstanding when or if it occurs? From the investigator’s notes, whenever someone spoke to Glover with concerns he was usually conciliatory. Krohn twice wrote and asked to discuss the Mayor’s concerns, with no response.

Given the nature of the two substantiated charges, namely that Krohn gave a snort or a laugh when a staff member cited her “professional opinion” (although no laugh can be heard on the tape) and that Glover confronted Meyers in a disrespectful manner when she failed to exit on time a conference room he had reserved, a reasonable person might wonder at such high stakes drama and emotion over what could and should have been addressed offstage. That is, unless one factors in that it is Krohn and Glover who are facing a well-funded, well-organized, determined recall effort supported by the two council members seeking the public censure.

At the meeting, a motion to table the censure item was made by council member Brown and seconded by council member Cummings. However the Mayor refused to recognize Brown. While motions to table are infrequent (made on eight occasions over the past five years and not usually on minor issues) a refusal to recognize a council member wishing to make a motion is unprecedented in my experience. That refusal to recognize was appealed by Brown and with four votes the appeal and the motion to table were passed. Then things really heated up. While the next item was to fine tune recommendations for a revised workplace policy and conflict resolution procedures, the Mayor allowed the public to vent, making later claims moot that the motion to table silenced the public.

Evaluating this whole controversy, I find a finger can be pointed at the Mayor’s speech at the February 12th council meeting where she launched into an accusation of sexism on the part of Glover and Krohn. Labeled as a “perception” by others rather than her own experience and after her lengthy accusation with no right of reply, the Mayor concluded that she brought the issue up “to name it and move on.” I don’t know about you but if I were accused of such egregious behavior at a public meeting I would like a few minutes to respond. The Mayor allowed no response. I thought Glover and Krohn, who displayed no outward emotion, were restrained given the circumstances. This was in stark contrast to council member Meyers who at the last council meeting, pounded the table and yelled, “I’ve been out as a lesbian for 34 years so don’t call me a racist!” This was apparently in response to someone’s Facebook posting. That a white woman whether lesbian, straight or bi cannot also be racist suggests a need for further education as called for in earlier conversations by Glover. He has a point.

Staff is, in my view, overstepping their bounds. At the following night’s meeting of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, after the commission coordinator re-read her tearful testimony against Glover that she had delivered the night before in front of council, the commission voted to send a letter asking for the censure of Glover and Krohn to be put back on the next council agenda. They are entitled to do that. However, the coordinator told the commission to do a press conference, something they had not decided on their own. She is not entitled to do that. It was not framed by “maybes” or “perhaps.” She also advised one of the commissioners who happens to be an intern for Glover, to think about her professional future before she voted. The intern voted for the motion. The commission voted also that a draft be shared with the whole commission prior to being adopted. However by the next day, without full commission input, there it was, posted on NextDoor.

It’s past time for the city manager to have a heart to heart talk with his staff about civil service. And past time for those who are frenzied about the recall to stop throwing about terms such as “victim blaming.” We worked too hard to have victim blaming taken seriously for its misuse in the service of political posturing.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

Originally published at brattononline.com and used with permission.

The REAL Roots of the Recall Campaign

A divisive recall campaign is underway against two progressive members of the Santa Cruz City Council. What’s behind it? Are the strident accusations against Drew Glover and Chris Krohn valid, or are they a smokescreen for a sordid attempt to overturn the will of the people in the past two elections?

The Recall drumbeat began immediately after the November 2018 election, long before accusations of personal misconduct.
A wealthy construction company owner’s letter to the Sentinel and another person’s post on Next Door initiated rumblings about recalling Chris Krohn on November 7, 2018, when it began to seem that two progressive City Council candidates, Justin Cummings and Drew Glover might be elected, resulting in a 4-3 progressive majority.

The origins of the recall were political issues: real estate, housing, and landlord-tenant relations.
Initiating a clamor echoed many times since in the wake of the Measure M defeat, recall advocates faulted Krohn not for personal behavior, but for his political views on property transfer taxes and rental taxes. Later came opposition to any ordinance protecting tenants against eviction without just cause, first, in a January 18, 2019, Sentinel letter proposing a recall against Krohn and Council member Sandy Brown (NOT Drew Glover!), then in a February 6, 2019, Sentinel letter by a person who later helped initiate the recall petitions.

Beginning in November 2018, recall advocates sought to delegitimize the election, complaining that unfair UCSC student voting tilted the outcome.
One pro-recall person railed against “temporary residents” voting; then, on November 12, in a Sentinel column, Mark Primack insinuated that campaigners for progressives were “offering free doughnuts and ballot recommendations” to gain UCSC students’ votes. Later, Primack and others voiced flat-out opposition to UCSC students voting in Santa Cruz.

Proponents of a recall wanted to oust progressive council members before the newly elected ones had even been seated! In short, the origin of the whole effort is an effort to have a redo of the 2018 election. Please stand up for fair elections and refuse to sign the recall petition. If you signed a petition and regret it, you can legally Withdraw Your Signature here.

Chris Krohn Responds to the Rose Report

Chris Krohn
City Hall
Santa Cruz, CA

July, 2019

An Open Letter to the Santa Cruz Community

I would like to respond to the recent information put out by the Santa Cruz City Manager’s office and the Rose Report.

1. The accusation that I “bullied” Mayor Watkins because of her gender is not substantiated.
The investigator describes Mayor Watkins’ basis for her allegation:

“In support of her complaint that Councilmember Krohn intentionally bullied her based upon her female gender, Mayor Watkins cited Councilmember Krohn’s frequent interruptions during City Council meetings, speaking or asking questions of staff without first being recognized by her as the presiding officer of those meetings, and the subjective perceptions of her father, members of the County Board of Supervisors, and other unnamed persons in the community who watch City Council meeting and conjecture that Councilmember Krohn would not interrupt or ask questions to the same degree or in the same manner without first being recognized if the Mayor were a man.”

Here is the investigator’s conclusion after watching many hours of Council meeting videos including during the tenure of Mayor Terrazas:

“What I observed in Councilmember Krohn’s conduct on the dais toward Mayor Watkins was a passionate public servant who asks sometimes pointed questions of staff, challenges and vigorously debates with his colleagues on the City Council regarding policy, can be highly opinionated on some issues, and zealously advocates for his policy positions. Although I observed instances where Councilmember Krohn did not strictly observe Robert’s Rules of Order during City Council meetings, that was also true of my observations of other members of the City Council too such as, for example Councilmember Mathews.”

The investigator, Joe Rose, acknowledges my attempt to heal the rift between myself and the Mayor:

“When interviewing Councilmember Krohn, and in reading his February 24 and March 10, 2019 to Mayor Watkins…I found him to express a serious, non-cavalier attitude about the allegations, a genuine concern about his contribution to her negative experience, a sincere desire for rectification and reconciliation, and an unequivocal acknowledgment of his respect for Mayor Watkins as a person and a woman in a leadership role.”

2. The accusation that I uttered a “sarcastic laugh” during a staff presentation is substantiated.
Although I don’t recall the incident, I need to trust that the staff person and my colleague on the Council are not making this up. So, I am assuming that I did utter a sound that sounded to the staff person as disrespectful. I apologize.

3. The accusation that the “sarcastic laugh” was motivated by the gender of the staff person is not substantiated.

4. The accusation by another staff person that I was disrespectful because I went to the City Manager to complain about the employee’s performance is not substantiated.

Investigator’s recommendations
The first recommendation is:

“Councilmembers should avoid making public accusations of misconduct or bad faith against one another and against City staff without first privately and internally addressing these concerns and attempting conflict resolution and rectification when possible.”

My response to the report
I am grateful for the care and time that the investigator spent on this report. I am glad that he recognized that my behavior is that of “a passionate public servant who…zealously advocates for his policy positions” – not the behavior of someone trying to “bully” the Mayor. My heartfelt lesson from this situation is that my style of vigorous debate can be received in a way that might strain relationships. I do not want colleagues to feel criticized or attacked. I will continue to work on delivery-style and the tone of my comments. I feel hopeful that the Mayor will come to understand me this way.

The accusation against me by the Mayor was “not substantiated,” but it has nevertheless taken its toll on my reputation, my family, and my work life. There is currently a recall attempt against me, which is using that accusation as a recall justification. I believe the results of this investigation makes that argument unjustified.

I am hopeful that the media coverage of this report will set the record straight. Beyond the fate of my tenure on the City Council, what good does it do our community to have a recall effort based on falsehoods? The media has an opportunity to fact check all of the recall group’s allegations so that a politics of dishonesty does not take root in our community.

As a human being and a father of two daughters I am heartened by the #MeToo movement that has brought credibility to the huge number of women who have suffered harassment. I believe that false accusations of harassment detract from that movement. I want for myself and others the ability to take seriously someone’s accusation, and still accord the accused the practice of waiting for proof before judgment. That practice has come to us the hard way, through the painful experience of many generations.

I harbor no ill will toward Mayor Watkins. I look forward to fulfilling the recommendations of the investigator, which include: “All members of the City Council and selected staff members should immediately participate in professional mediation and conflict resolution.”

We on the Council have the people’s work to do. I am committed to healing our relationships and finding common ground to move forward.


Chris Krohn
City Councilmember
Santa Cruz