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Calexico Mayor and Council-member To Face Recall Election

-Editorial

Thanks to a strong grassroots mobilization by local residents, the Calexico Recall Committee was able to gather the necessary signatures to initiate a recall election against Mayor Raul Ureña and Council member Gilberto Manzanarez. 

Recall supporters stated on social media that this success reflects the growing dissatisfaction among the residents of Calexico and their demand for a change in the leadership of the city council. Ureña and Manzanarez took office in December 2022 after being elected by a majority vote. However, residents have questioned their actions on the city council and opted to start a recall process. This will be the first recall election against a sitting city council member since the 1990s. 

The recall committee delivered the signatures to City Clerk Veronica Luna Alvarado on November 16.

“The rough count was done in the presence of the Imperial County Registrar of Voters, Lindsay Dale,” the press release by the Recall Committee stated. “Ms. Dale was accompanied by her staff and two Imperial County District Attorney Investigators.”

On November 29, Imperial County Registrar of Voters (ROV), Linsey Dale, announced the completion of signature verification for the recall petitions against Calexico City Council members Gilberto Manzanarez and Raul Ureña. These petitions have been deemed sufficient, meeting the necessary criteria to qualify for the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election ballot.

On November 16th, the ROV office received two separate petitions seeking the recall of Council members Manzanarez and Ureña. The signature counts for these petitions were as follows:

5,105 signatures were received for Gilberto Manzanarez and 5,157 for Raúl Ureña.

In accordance with the Elections Code, a recall petition must garner valid signatures equivalent to at least 20% of the registered voters in the City of Calexico, as per the most recent Report of Registration (February 10, 2023). This threshold was set at 4,196 signatures based on a total of 20,982 registered voters.

Upon thorough verification, the ROV office found:

For the recall of Gilberto Manzanarez: 4,243 qualified signatures, with 862 unqualified.

For the recall of Raul Ureña: 4,288 qualified signatures, with 869 unqualified.

These figures confirm that both petitions have surpassed the required number of signatures to proceed to the ballot. The City of Calexico will deliberate on a resolution to consolidate these recall elections with the upcoming March 5, 2024 Primary Election. This discussion is scheduled for the next regular council meeting on December 6, 2023.

Ureña was elected in 2020 after the voters of Calexico decided to clean house and elect a brand new council by replacing four out of the five council members.

Manzanarez, Ureña’s ally, joined him in the city council in 2022, thereby creating a voting block that favors their political platform. 

Council Members Reaction 

“I trust that the citizens of Calexico will see through the smoke and see the clear questionable motives the recall organized by former Calexico politicians. The effort to oust the two newest and youngest members of the council, attributing to us long-standing Calexico problems while conveniently sidestepping their friends in council who have been there for years, is clear proof that this is just a political maneuver rather than a genuine concern for the community,” Manzanarez said in a statement.

Ureña’s declaration was more modest. 

“It is not over, it is only the beginning,” Ureña wrote on his Facebook page and said that he will release a more detailed statement in the days to come. 

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