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.