On Friday, 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall responded to the recall petition filed against her, calling it a “purely political attack.”

Marshall was served with a recall notice Tuesday, Oct. 23, which was signed by 20 citizens of the 3rd District. Petitioners accused Marshall of violating her oath of office, ignoring the expressed will of county citizens by not preserving the interest of the county, creating hostility between north and south county and undermining the future of agriculture in the county.

Marshall said the petition was an “abuse of the recall process” and a waste of taxpayer money. She will be up for re-election in 2003.

“My opponents are welcome to oppose me in the next regularly scheduled election. However, this recall will waste taxpayers’ money and divide us when unity and mutual support are what both our country and county need,” she said. “I ask fair-minded residents to reject it.”

Jonathan Kalinski, a member of the UCSB College Republicans, was one of the 20 citizens to initiate the recall process. He said Marshall has not fulfilled her obligation to represent her constituents.

“It is not unnecessary. What makes it necessary is when you take your oath of office and you turn around and ignore 5,000 of your constituents,” Kalinski said. “The great part about a democracy is that we don’t have to wait for the next election in four years to take action; we can do it now.”

Petitioners said disapproval culminated after Joe Olla, the chair of the Santa Ynez Valley General Plan Advisory Committee, contacted Marshall’s office about leading the pledge of allegiance at the Oct. 18 GPAC meeting. Marshall said she told Olla the pledge would not be appropriate without consulting the members of the committee, but that she would not overrule his position as chair. Olla decided to start the meeting with the pledge, which led to a confrontation between Marshall and approximately 20 citizens.

In her response, Marshall said the disagreement over the pledge was a political tactic that took advantage of a sensitive issue.

“Those questioning my patriotism and loyalty are using those tragic events [of Sept. 11] to engage in undemocratic smear tactics, dishonoring our heritage,” she said. “I support our dedication to ‘liberty and justice for all’ and regularly and publicly reaffirm that pledge.”

In order for the recall to continue, 8,819 registered voters must sign the petition within 120 days of notification. The County Clerk Elections division will then have 30 days to check the signatures and report to the Board of Supervisors, which will have no less than 88 days and no more than 125 days to set an election date.

“We’re very early in the process,” Elections Division Manager Bob Smith said. “There are a lot of steps we have to go through before we get to an election.”

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas – who said he would run against Marshall if the recall is pushed through – supported Olla’s decision to say the pledge without a GPAC vote but said he is not involved in the process.

“I’m not going to support [the recall] and I’m not going to oppose it. It’s between [Marshall] and the voters,” he said. “If she is recalled and they put out a call for candidates, I will offer to take her place – but that is a big ‘if.'”

This Thursday, the Santa Ynez GPAC meeting has the issue of the pledge of allegiance on their agenda, Marshall’s assistant Mark Chaconas said.

“They are going to decide whether or not they want to do it. It is completely GPAC’s call – it’s never Gail’s call,” he said. “The Board of Supervisors always say the pledge at their meetings. Saying the pledge is not an issue for [Marshall].”

Chaconas said the recall petition has not changed the efforts or the work of the 3rd District office.

“We are continuing to go about doing our daily business,” he said. “We are not changing any of our plans.”