San Francisco: Voters Recall Three Board Members

Voters in San Francisco overwhelmingly recalled three board members because the board spent too much time on divisive equity issues and too little time on reopening schools, according to the account by Laura Meckler in the Washington Post.

The story subtitle is: “In a warning for the left, critics saw misplaced priorities, as the board focused on equity issues while schools remained closed”

Some voters were angry about the board’s failure to reopen schools. Asian-Americans were angry about the board’s decision to change the admissions procedure for Lowell High School to increase the number of Black and brown students. Others were frustrated by the lengthy deliberations about renaming schools where the name was associated to racism, not always accurately. More unrest was created by lengthy debates about whether to destroy or cover over a mural in Washington High School depicting George Washington as a slave owner and imperialist, which was considered “racist” by critics who did not realize it was a critical depiction. (The board ultimately voted to cover the mural, not destroy it.)

The recall was heavily funded by “reformers” like billionaire Arthur Rock, a major donor to TFA.

Meckler writes:

Voters in San Francisco opted overwhelmingly to recall three school board members from their positions Tuesday, fueled by dissatisfaction over what San Franciscans saw as the board’s focus on issues of social justice at the expense of reopening schools.

The recall election is the latest signal that mainstream voters, even in a liberal city like San Francisco, have grown frustrated with public schools during the pandemic. Education, particularly its struggles with coronavirus measures and racial justice, is expected to play a prominent role in elections across the country later this year. The results in San Francisco offer another warning sign for Democrats.

Preliminary results showed the vote to oust each of the school board members topping 70 percent. Those who lost their seats are school board president Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga.

The recall effort was initiated by a couple frustrated by the board’s failure to reopen schools last academic year. Even as other districts opened or developed hybrid in-person and remote systems, San Francisco remained remote for nearly all students, who returned this fall.

The leaders of the recall movement, Siva Raj and Autumn Looijen, appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show in a segment about parents pushing back against schools, drawing criticism at home.

Months after the recall effort launched, the Virginia governor’s race showed the power of education as a political issue when Republican Glenn Youngkin won with a heavy emphasis on school closures and race.

A pedestrian walks past a San Francisco Unified School District office building in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. A seemingly endless amount of drama, name-calling, lawsuits _ and outrage from parents and city officials _ made the saga of San Francisco’s school board a riveting pandemic sideshow that is about to play out at the ballot box. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

OPINION:

prince George’s county should have a recall elections to keep Board of Education members on their toes and other politicians.

How do you trigger a recall election?

A recall election is a process that allows voters to remove an elected official before the regularly scheduled election at the end of their term. In 39 states, various officials can be subject to recalls, although how easy it is to prompt a recall and what happens next varies significantly among states. And 12 of these 39 states require a stated reason for a recall, whether legal or political. For the rest, if the requisite amount of support is gathered for a recall election, it can be called for any reason. 

There are hundreds of recall efforts every year, ranging from school board to governorship recall elections. However, most of these efforts do not reach their required legal minimum number of signatures in order to successfully warrant an election. Parties interested in recalling an elected official must gather a certain number of signatures within a matter of months, ranging from 10% to 40% of all the votes cast in the last election to that office. The shortest timeline for this petition collection process is 60 days in Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin and Nevada; the longest is 320 days in New Jersey. 

If a recall effort successfully gathers the required amount of signatures within the allotted time frame, an election is called in which all voters, including those opposed to the recall effort, can vote. After the election, if the incumbent is indeed recalled, states have three different processes they use to appoint successors. In some states, the same ballot used to recall candidates is used to replace the official. In others, a second special election is called to vote for a replacement. And in five states, the successor is appointed instead of elected. 

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