INDIO – For the second time in less than a month, former Indio Mayor and Councilmember Michael H. Wilson has hinted at — and then boldly suggested — a recall of one or both of the newly elected City Councilmembers.
There is a whisper campaign in another Coachella Valley community about the potential recall of one, possibly two members of a City Council. The whisperers aren’t as bold as Wilson to say it publicly.
“Recall is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire,” Mayor Lupe Ramos Amith told Uken Report. “It has been a fundamental part of our governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives. I emphasize “voters” in the plurality. Mr. Wilson’s threats are simply one disgruntled individual’s continued acts of bullying without stating a cause or basis for being taken seriously by any other voter.”
Ramos Amith added, “Mr. Wilson has cost the taxpayers millions in unnecessary legal costs and settlements. If this threat is followed through, it will be one more case against him for the waste of taxpayer dollars in cases instigated by him.”
Any registered voter of the jurisdiction of the officer they seek to recall, can seek a recall, Sabdi Sanchez, Indio City Clerk Administrator told Uken Report. The proponent needs to state the reasons for the proposed recall.
A recall can only be initiated 90 days after the incumbent has been in office, Sanchez said. The incumbent occupies the seat until recall proceedings are finalized.
Proponents begin the recall by filing, publicizing, and posting a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. The recall petition can be circulated by any person 18 years of age or older. It must include:
- The name and title of the officer sought to be recalled.
- A statement, not over 200 words in length, of the reasons for the recall. A reason must be provided, but under Article II, Section 14(a) of the California Constitution, the sufficiency of this reason is not reviewable.
- The printed name, signature, and residence address of each proponent of the recall. The number of proponents that sign the notice of intention must be at least 10 or equal to the number of signatures required to be filed on the nomination paper of the officer sought to be recalled, whichever is greater.
- The officer sought to be recalled may file an answer.
- Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the Secretary of State an answer of not more than 200 words.
- Eventually, another election is held.
You may read the entire process here.
The cost of a recall would be contingent on when the recall election is held, Sanchez said. It costs more if it is held in a non-election year and the county does not have any other election business on that particular ballot.
In Indio, Oscar F. Ortiz and Waymond Fermon were sworn into office in December. Ortiz beat incumbent Troy Strange in District 4 and Fermon toppled Wilson, a 21-year incumbent, in District 2. It was the first time Indio residents voted by districts. Prior to November, members of the City Council were elected at large.
In the final certified vote tally, Fermon garnered 1,920 votes to Wilson’s 1,772, a difference of 4 percentage points, or 148 votes.
Wilson initially called for a recount, then at the 11th hour called if off.
In December, moments after cancelling his request for a recount of votes in the Nov. 6 election, Wilson told Uken Report, “One wrong decision will quickly (take) away 148 voters and their support, the difference in this election. My supporters and Indio residents will be watching closely and will react when necessary.”
It was the first hint of a potential recall.
In an opinion piece published on Uken Report on New Year’s Day, Wilson lambasted Ortiz and Fermon for bringing “no experience period to elected office. When I say no experience I mean zero experience.”
Wilson said both will be puppets or mouthpieces at-large for the progressive left Democrat parties in the Coachella Valley, who got them elected.
He accused them of having “no leadership experience, no budget experience, and no public policy experience.”
Wilson further insinuated that Ortiz has a potential conflict of interest.
“These two individuals, Ortiz and Fermon, combined with the failed current Mayor of Indio, Lupe Ramos Watson (Amith), will form the basis of such a significant change and majority that all Indio residents should be seriously worried and concerned about Indio’s future,” Wilson wrote.
Indio residents, Wilson wrote, are about to see such a partisan hard turn left for its City Council that all the progress over years of non-partisan good public policy leadership is about to come under heavy attack and change — for the worse.
If residents are OK with the direction the city is taking, fine, Wilson said.
“Otherwise, you’ll start making plans to either fix the mistakes of this election by recall or completely looking to relocate as it will be a long few years in Indio,” he wrote.