The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.
Right now in Fullerton, there is an effort going around to recall three members of the Fullerton City Council. People sit outside of Ralphs and other places, gathering signatures to put the recall on the ballot. In general, I agree with the recall effort. I think those councilmen (Bankhead, McKinley, and Jones) wrongfully tried to cover up the Kelly Thomas incident, and I think they are in the pockets of monied intersts, and not the general public they serve.
Recall elections are nothing especially new in American politics. They can lead to wonderful results, or they can lead to not-so-good results. Take the 2003 recall of California governor Gray Davis. He was recalled, and then who did we get? Arnold Schwartzenegger. Yikes.
I think a recall election can be a GOOD thing if it has the following results:
1.) That it creates the space for a new kind of leader, one who is truly a public servant, who listens to all of his/her constituents and not just those with a lot of money (whether they be corporattions or local landowners and developers).
2.) That it fosters the development of a more civicly-informend public, creating people who know how to inform themselves about candidates (not just their professed views, but who is bankrolling their campaigns).
3.) That it inspires people to be more actively involved in serving their local community.
4.) That is fosters a healthy and critical exchange of ideas.
I think a recall election can be a BAD thing if it has the following results:
1.) That it simply replaces one group of monied interest with another group of monied interest, whether they be corporations, local landowners, developers, unions, etc. The Fullerton recall is being largely bankrolled by local property owner Tony Bushala, who also runs the wildly popular Friends for Fullerton's Future blog. While I applaud his efforts, people need to realize that the recall is not a true "grassroots" movement. It is being bankrolled by a wealthy property owner, to the tune of around $130,000.
2.) That it creates an atmosphere of conflict and anger, which are usually not helpful in an intelligent discussion.
3.) That is creates a reactionary, emotion-driven public instead of a thoughtful, critical-thinking public.
Yesterday, I was talking with a friend who is really involved in the local community, and she said, "One thing I fear with the recall is that we are going to get worse leaders than the ones being voted out." That was certainly the case with Gray Davis in 2003. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that we get better leaders than we have had. Fullerton deserves better.
This is the famous/infamous Tony Bushala, who is bankrolling the Fullerton Recall. Depending on who you talk to in Fullerton, Tony is either a hero or a villain. To me, he is neither. He is just another member of the community, albeit a much wealthier member than me. Photo by Ed Carrasco