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San Juan Chamber Opposes the Recall

The San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce has come out in opposition to the attempt to recall City Councilman Sam Allevato.  Below is the full statement from the Chamber:

The San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that represents over 300 member businesses and residents in the community.

The San Juan Chamber Board of Directors recently voted to officially oppose the efforts to recall Councilman Sam Allevato. The Chamber believes that a recall is not in the best interests of the community due to its high and unnecessary cost, the lack of sufficient grounds for the recall of an elected official and the major distraction from important City business that the process will cause.

The ‘cost’ of a recall election can be measured in numerous ways, but two stand out. The first is the obvious, direct financial burden a special election would put on our City.  While the City has made important strides in improving its financial health, it is already faced with budget cuts due to revenue shortfalls. With the cost estimated to be $100,000, conducting a special election will cost the City money that it does not have to spend which will result in either reduced services or increased burdens on taxpayers.

The second “cost” of a special election is the intangible cost of subjecting the community to the divisiveness of politics. Unfortunately, the tone of campaigns in San Juan Capistrano has become increasingly negative lately. Campaign signs litter our roadways, inflammatory letters to the editor are printed, City Council meetings devolve into poorly veiled campaign theatrics, etc.  We suffer through it every other year because we have to. This time, it’s avoidable.

Beyond the cost, we believe there has been no substantive change in Councilman Allevato’s actions, policies or behavior that would warrant his recall. Recalls serve an important role in democracy because things can change. Voters should not have to allow an elected official to continue representing them if he or she committed a serious crime, acted in an obviously unethical manner or reneged on the commitment to serving the best interests of the jurisdiction.  None of those breaches have occurred with Councilman Allevato.

In this case, the candidate being recalled is exactly the candidate that voters elected to office less than a year ago. The foundation of the arguments supporting the recall effort is all based on information that was readily available to voters at the time of his re-election in 2012. Not everyone will agree with every choice that Councilman Allevato makes, but that’s a natural part of a representative democracy. In our opinion, a recall requires more than pre-existing disagreement on policies.  Policy disputes should be solved through reasoned debate, community-focused negotiation and – ultimately — during the regular election cycle.

Finally, we oppose the recall because there’s just too much to get done. The City of San Juan Capistrano is a wonderful community but obvious challenges lie ahead. With more than a year left on the Ortega Interchange reconstruction project, businesses will continue suffering lower sales and residents will endure more traffic congestion. Important decisions need to be made on a variety of projects that will reshape parts of the City. Key roles on City Staff are in the process of being filled and that process requires the full attention of our City Leadership. This is all in addition to the standard business that the City conducts on a daily basis. A recall election will delay and distract from the critical tasks and responsibilities that we, as a community, demand and expect from the City.

The voters of San Juan Capistrano have elected a five-member council whose job it is to lead this city. We feel that it is in the best interests of the community, our local economy and the residents for those five individuals to continue their service without this costly disruption. The City of San Juan Capistrano will benefit most if we all set politics and disagreements aside and find ways to work together towards common goals that enhance the community.

Well said.  More at the SJC Patch.  As a reminder, our thoughts on the recall are available in this September 30th article, where we indicated our opposition to the recall but counseled recall opponents to let the process play out:

In our opinion (and recognizing that there is no right answer here), a recall is appropriate when a politician breaches the public trust in a way that effectively terminates  or nullifies their election mandate.  If a politician reneges or changes positions on a key campaign promise or if a politician commits an act of dishonesty or immorality, in our opinion, the public has a reasonable basis to seek a recall.  We do not believe that a recall is appropriate merely because political opponents want a second bite at the apple.

… Personally, we would not sign the recall petition.  Certainly, others will.  And if 20% of San Juan’s voters agree, we’ll have an election.  Let’s just hope that when the dust settles, regardless of the outcome, we can put it behind us and work for the best interests of San Juan Capistrano.

No doubt there is more to come.

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