Second District Recall Effort May Be Doomed By Invalid Signatures

If the attempt to recall Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce is to be successful it’s going to need a miraculous turnaround as the math has continued to stack up against the effort with the Long Beach City Clerk’s office preparing to release finalized results of the signature verification process in the coming days.

According to unreleased figures that the clerk’s office is currently double-checking there are just 4,688 valid signatures in favor of the recall effort leaving a gap of 1,675 signatures that needs to be closed if the recall were to move forward with a special election.

There are unofficially 4,362 challenged signatures with reasons ranging from the signees not being registered to vote, not being registered to vote in the Second District or having signed the petition more than once. Pablo Rubio, an analyst with the city clerk’s office, said that in that case one of the person’s signatures would count but all others would be listed as challenged.

An update on the official count is expected Friday with a conclusive count due next week. The deadline for the recall verification process is June 21. Whether the double-checking of the signatures is likely to result in a dramatic shift from the unofficial numbers is not clear and Rubio declined to speculate on the likelihood of that happening.

“We’re only a week away from releasing the results but I’ll wait until everything is done and verified,” he said.

Residents Serve Councilwoman Pearce With Recall Notice During Council Meeting

Ian Patton, the lead consultant of the campaign to unseat Pearce, seemed more resigned to the math that has been breaking against the campaign for the past few weeks. Patton said that the issue with the validity of the signatures the group turned in was largely the fault of the Friends of Long Beach PAC the group teamed up with to employ paid signature gathers.

The PAC has been tied to former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and had received over $200,000, mainly from area hotels, in an attempt to recall Pearce. Pearce, who previously worked for the Los Angeles Alliance for A New Economy, was part of a campaign that successfully raised hotel workers’ minimum wage and had fought to institute Claudia’s Law in the city which failed to pass the city council in 2017.

The law would have put in safeguards for hotel workers like workload caps and safety devices for those who fear being assaulted by patrons. Claudia’s Law could end up on the November ballot pending certification by the city clerk’s office.

Patton said that the group received roughly 2,000 signatures from the PAC the night before signatures were due last month and were expecting another 2,000 signatures to be delivered the day of which never came through. The ones that were turned in suffered from paid signature gatherers handling multiple ballot initiatives at a time that ranged from statewide issues to citywide issues, Patton said.

“There’s only two or three grocery stores in the Second District but even those service patrons from multiple areas outside of the district,” Patton said. “When you’re doing any signature gathering at a store like that and you’re gathering signatures for a council district you have to be really careful. You have to have a map of the council district and make certain that the person signing is within the lines of that map.”

While the math is pretty clear, Patton said he and the residents who launched the recall initiative are in no hurry to reconcile with Pearce, who will likely finish her term as a member of the city council. Instead, they view the last nine months as a victorious campaign that didn’t culminate with a recall vote, but did garner a censure vote from the city council that Patton said will irreparably harm Pearce’s future political ambitions.

“On a practical level there’s no way that she can ever successfully run for any office again or run for reelection,” he said. “She may try but I don’t know how any opponent wouldn’t be able to beat her with that imprinted on her record.”

Pearce has weathered a censure vote and a full year of coverage of her relationship with her former chief of staff that exploded into the public view after a June 3, 2017 encounter with law enforcement regarding potential driving under the influence and domestic violence issues. That investigation spurred the recall group to form and file paperwork to formally seek her ouster.

When reached Wednesday, Pearce said she is looking forward to the conclusion of the process.

“The city clerk’s office has been doing a diligent job to ensure the will of the voters is clear,” Pearce said. “We look forward to the 21st, when the District and the city can fully focus on delivering results our constituents count on.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.