Private citizens in Santa Barbara County accounted for over 80 percent of the 113 contributors and 70 percent of the contributions received prior to Dec. 31 by the campaign to recall 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, according to county documents released last week.
The recall’s supporters said their finances prove that people across the county are sick of Gail Marshall.
“It just shows the number of people that have been affected by Gail Marshall’s inability to lead and her continued divisiveness of the county,” senior history major Lee Gientke said.
Marshall’s defenders attacked the recall as an attempt by out-of-town business interests to buy the supervisor’s seat. Roughly one third of the $61,714 the recall campaign had as of Dec. 31 came from agriculture businesses or individual farmers and ranchers, and the two largest contributors to the recall campaign were North County agriculture groups. The Los Padres Agriculture and Land Political Action Committee and the Santa Barbara County Cattlemen’s Association both contributed $5,000. Several farms and ranches gave smaller amounts, including $1,000 each from San Lucas Ranch, Hampton Farming Co. and Teixeira Farms.
Hallador Petroleum Co., a Denver-based oil and gas exploration and production company, also contributed $1,000 to the recall campaign.
“This is a big dollar campaign with a lot of out-of-town help,” said Das Williams, the head of the No Recall Campaign. “They are trying to drown out local perspective.”
Williams started working two weeks ago to fight the Recall Campaign, which claims to have already gathered the 8,914 signatures needed to put the recall on the ballot. If voters approve the recall, a special election would be held.
Over 150 people have petitioned to remove their names from the signature list, Williams said, over complaints about the way they said petitioners gathered the signatures. The No Recall Campaign is considering a lawsuit with the complaints as evidence, Williams said.
“The No Recall Campaign will meet with lawyers within the next couple of weeks to come up with a legal strategy to determine what is legal and illegal regarding the tactics of the petitioners,” he said.
Junior political science major Jeff Farrah, one of the 20 3rd District residents who started the recall campaign last fall, said the petitioners’ tactics were fine.
“I’ve been approached myself and each time the petitioner represented the recall correctly,” he said. “If there’s anyone being dishonest, it’s the No Recall people who are telling students it’s costing $300,000, or that it’s disenfranchising students.”
The Recall Campaign accuses Marshall of violating her oath of office, ignoring the wishes of 3rd District citizens, undermining agriculture and creating tension between North and South County voters.
“She hasn’t stood up for the constituents as well as she should,” Gientke said. “She won’t return phone calls, she’s got a lot of special interests controlling what policies and issues she tackles, and whenever something is said negatively about her, she doesn’t listen to you anymore.”
Marshall’s supporters have fought back by accusing the Recall Campaign of deceptive petitioning and alleging that out-of-town developers want her off the board so they can control the majority of the supervisors. The board often splits along a 3-2 vote on agricultural and development issues, with Marshall usually voting with South County Supervisors Naomi Schwartz and Susan Rose against North County Supervisors Joni Gray and Tom Urbanske.
“[The recall] should be used in exceptional situations, not when a group of people want to follow a less environmentally restrictive developing plan,” said environmental studies professor Marc McGinnes, who was one of six UCSB faculty gathered under the Cheadle Hall flagpole Wednesday afternoon to protest the recall.
Sociology professor Richard Flacks organized the faculty gathering, which drew black studies lecturer and interim Chair Shirley Kennedy to protest what she said is an “abuse” of the democratic process.
“This has nothing to do with patriotism. This recall is about a personal vendetta against an officer,” she said. “If they don’t like her, they should vote her out during the next election.”