Barring major changes at City Hall, Crescent City Councilwoman Donna Westfall said she will move forward with her effort to oust some of her elected colleagues.
She said there’s no timeline on when she expects to file the proper paperwork and start collecting the signatures needed to force a recall election. But she said that as long as she continues to be ignored on the issues that she thinks are important, her push to remove Mayor Kelly Schellong, Councilwoman Kathryn Murray and City Clerk Dianne Nickerson remains.
“Little by little it’s moving forward,” Westfall said. “It is still over the same reasons because nothing has changed.”
Last week, The Daily Triplicate reported on an email it obtained in which Westfall outlined the process for recalling Schellong, Murray and Nickerson. When asked about the email, she cited the difficulties she had in gaining support from her fellow council members on issues dealing with both the city’s $42.5 million wastewater treatment plant and the fluoride in the public water supply as the reasons she is pushing for the recall.
She raised the same issues this week, and said if the council would simply work with her to find solutions to what she perceives as high sewer rates, billing discrepancies in the wastewater facility’s construction and the potential hazards of having fluoride in the water, to name a few, there wouldn’t be a need for change.
“If they were more open-minded to discuss issues with me and work toward resolutions, none of this would be happening,” Westfall said. “If I can’t resolve this with these particular players, maybe we need to change the players.”
There are many steps in recalling a public official. Perhaps the most difficult is getting enough petition signatures to force a special election. According to the California Elections Code, Westfall would need to collect the signatures of 25 percent of Crescent City’s registered voters. As of Tuesday, there were 1,700 registered voters in Crescent City, 25 percent of which is 425.
It’s been 20 years since a public official has been recalled in Crescent City. In 1989, four council members were removed from office in a a special election. Those officials were Mike Scavuzzo, Robert Seligman, Peter Mann and Rick Cain.
None of Westfall’s targets have spoken to her about her intentions to kick them out of office. At Monday’s City Council meeting they had a chance, but no one, including Westfall, uttered a word about a possible recall.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to say anything,” Murray said. “Why give it any more traction?”
Like Westfall, Murray was elected in November to her first term on the council. Because of this, Murray said she doesn’t understand why she would be included in a recall attempt.
“I have no idea what she’s doing,” Murray said. “I would hope she realizes that it sounds pretty absurd.”
Nickerson, too, was on the ballot in November, and beat out two challengers to win her bid for re-election. She said that despite the potential recall effort, it’s still important to maintain professionalism on the City Council and to move ahead with business.
“Like I said before, she’s entitled to her opinion,” Nickerson said about Westfall. “In my mind there are much more important things going on in both city and county government that need to be addressed, and this just adds to any chaos that might happen.”
Schellong is of the same opinion, and said she doesn’t want Westfall’s actions detracting from the mayor’s duty as an elected official.
“I just don’t want her attempt — whatever it is she is trying to accomplish — to be a distraction to the progress we’ve made,” Schellong said. “I just want to keep doing my job that I?was elected to do and if she actually follows through with it, then I’ll have to deal with it at that point.”