What the Calexico Recall Committee thought was going to be the culmination of months of hard work to have a special election to remove Mayor Raul Urena and Councilman Gilberto Manzanarez from the city council ended up in anger and disappointment against Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Romo who cast the dissenting vote to not consolidate the election to the March 5, 2024 primary.
The Council met on Dec. 6. One of their items was to call for a special election after the Imperial County elections department certified sufficient signatures to call for a recall election. Urena and Manzanarez left the meeting when the item on the agenda would be discussed. Romo took the lead of the meeting and after several public comments celebrating the achievement of the recall group, a vote was called. Council members Camilo Garcia and Javier Moreno voted to have the election on March 5th but Romo voted in opposition. Since there needed to be a 3-vote majority, the motion failed.
The members of the audience that initially cheered in celebration were stunned when City Attorney Carlos Campos clarified that the motion failed.
The recall supporters yelled at Romo:
YOU ARE COSTING US MONEY, ROMO!
ARE YOU GOING TO PAY IT FROM WALLET?
SOMEONE TRANSLATE TO SPANISH FOR HER!
In response, Romo said that she didn’t agree with this recall and said putting it in the March Primary would confuse people since there are a lot of candidates and issues on the ballot.
“The citizens need a special election for this,” Romo said. “You are not going to change my mind,” Romo asserted.
On November 16th, the Elections Department office received two separate petitions seeking the recall of 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.
Per 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.
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.
Under the Elections Code, the Calexico City Council has 14 days after the Dec. 6 meeting to issue an order for the election. The election must be held not less than 88 days and no more than 125 days after the issuance of the order. If they choose to consolidate with the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election, they need to meet the December 8, 2023 deadline.
“If they cannot make the deadline, they will be required to hold a special election that will be more costly to the city,” said Linsey Dale, Imperial County Elections Officer in a statement to Beyond Borders Gazette.
Councilman Moreno asked Dale how much money the election cost if it’s not on March 5. Dale said it would be approximately 125 thousand dollars.
“It might also confuse voters since they would be getting a double absentee ballot, you might want to consider that,” Dale told the council.
The council agreed to have a special meeting on Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. to discuss the recall election date. However, the city clerk sent a notice the following morning of the cancellation of that meeting due to a lack of quorum.