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Hughson residents discuss recall election possibilities

POSTED January 29, 2010 11:29 p.m.
After the three Hughson City Council members have made it clear they will not resign, Hughson residents have taken the matter into their own hands.
The group Citizens for Better City Government organized an educational meeting Thursday night to discuss the process of a recall election.
Since 1911, the government has been allowing voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire through a recall election. This process has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected officials.
At the last Hughson City Council meeting on Jan. 25, many seemed interested in giving three council members — Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley — who have been found by the Civil Grand Jury guilty of violating the Brown Act, the Fair Political Practices and Regulations and the Hughson Municipal Code, the boot out of office.
“Let’s get a recall election started,” said Bob Newman, at the last Hughson City Council meeting.
Thursday’s meeting was set up to look into a potential recall election. Organizers expected only about 25 people to attend the brainstorming session,  but 74 people showed up according to Candice Steelman of  the Citizens for Better City Government.
A decision was not made at the meeting whether or not to petition for a recall election, but attendees did get a clear idea of what a recall election entails. They plan to discuss making a decision next week at a scheduled meeting. Josh Whitfield, a political consultant, helped educate those who attended the meeting about the process of a recall election.
If residents of Hughson decide to go through with a recall election, they would have to gather 753 signatures from registered voters of Hughson, Steelman said. The signatures must also be certified. They would also need to have three candidates that would be willing to replace Crowder, Humphreys and Manley on the council.
Currently, there are four people who are interested in taking the seats of the three council members who have lost the trust of some of their community members.
“Having a recall election is a big time commitment, expensive and an emotional commitment,” Steelman said.
Whitfield advised that if Hughson residents were to have a recall election to get “thick skinned” because from his experience, he has seen the opponents get pretty nasty.  
Along with preparing for an emotional battle, the residents of Hughson will have to financially support the campaigns for the four candidates who could potentially take the positions of Crowder, Manley and Humphreys, Steelman said.
Those interested in joining the fight for or against the recall election can contact the Citizens for Better City Government at ResignHughson3@yahoo.com.
“We feel that local people have to solve local problems,” Steelman said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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