Recall efforts coming to an end
By Jessica A. York
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SANTA CRUZ >> The deadline for the recall of two council members is just days away, and for many, it cannot come soon enough.
Recall organizers Santa Cruz United have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to submit en masse at least 7,938 signatures of city voters each for the proposed recall of Santa Cruz City Councilmen Drew Glover and Chris Krohn. Effort co-organizer Dan Coughlin said Friday that the group had more than 10,000 signatures for each councilman and expected to make a large final signature push through the weekend. Signatures would need to be counted and verified before the recall could proceed to the Santa Cruz City Council to set an election date, where voters decide the outcome.
In the weeks leading to the final count, community members were vocal about concerns on a host of troubles ranging from perceived social media censorship and petitioner-opponent confrontations to alleged proponent misinformation and out-of-area special interest influence.
In particular, accusations have flown back and forth about alleged petitioner and opponent behavior. Two examples came from resident Susan Zackovich, who said she and her daughter Chloe Newton each heard what they described as lies from petitioners. Zackovich said she was told by a signature gatherer tabling on West Cliff Drive that Glover was not fairly elected because of his strong support from “nonresident” UC Santa Cruz students and that Newton was asked by a petitioner at the door if she had heard about sexual assaults by Glover — an inaccurate representation of a recent city workplace conduct investigation’s findings. Newton said she signed the petition at the time, but has since done some research and urges others not believe everything they hear in this campaign.
“He’s appealing to a 60-year-old woman, thinking that I’m going to agree that student votes shouldn’t count somehow and that they shouldn’t have a say in the politics of the city. To a young woman, they delivered information about an assault,” Zackovich said. “No matter what the argument was here, to me it just boils down to the truth. It didn’t matter if people agree or disagree with Drew’s work in the community. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s that false information is being distributed.”
Coughlin said that both of those assertions about Glover are false and that volunteers and paid signature gatherers are trained with talking points, but never these. The types of assertions shared by Zackovich, he said, are not in Santa Cruz United’s literature or platform. Coughlin said they probably misheard the petitioners or it was a simple misunderstanding.
“That’s just not the kind of campaign we run. We wouldn’t say that, we wouldn’t even allude to it,” Coughlin said of sexual assault allegation claims, in particular.
Paige Concannon, Seabright resident who was part of a near-simultaneous effort with Santa Cruz United’s to launch a recall against Glover and Krohn, said the two councilmen’s supporters have launched a continuous negative online campaign on her social media pages. Concannon, who unsuccessfully ran in the same 2016 City Council race as Glover, said she also was aware of a female signature-gatherer’s petitions being temporarily stolen and, separately, of someone signing a petition getting sprayed in the face with pepper spray. Concannon said she herself has had things thrown out the windows of passing cars at her.
“It’s insane,” Concannon said. “Frankly, Drew Glover could say ‘stop it’ and that would probably calm things down, but it’s just getting worse.”
Meanwhile, at least one Westside area is coming to metaphoric blows via neighborhood- specific social media site Nextdoor. While political debates and strong disagreements are not uncommon for the platform, several residents wrote to the Sentinel to air concerns that they were being censored or even barred from using the site altogether at the urging of volunteer neighborhood “leads” when they posted anti-recall opinions.
Jaime Garfield said the site should be impartial and that this type of censorship was “very wrong.”
“People who read Nextdoor are being unduly influenced by the pro-recall bombardment,” Garfield wrote to the Sentinel.
Tereza Coraggio, a Nextdoor lead, wrote to the Sentinel that the final decision to remove posts and user access to the site is up to Nextdoor officials, though the leads can provide input by voting on flagged items. Researching a question about a removed post from a neighbor, Coraggio said she conducted a tally showing that member complaints of pro-recall posts were ignored by leads 95% of the time, while anti-recall posts were reported and removed most often by leads themselves. Her post saying as much was removed, she said.
Coughlin, an Eastside resident, said he and others involved with the campaign believe they were being targeted, as many of their prorecall
Nextdoor posts also were being removed.
“There does seem to be issues on the Westside, both on the pro-recall side and the anti-recall side,” Coughlin said. “They get taken down relatively quickly and in particular people get flagged, where they put something up and it gets taken down quickly.”