Submitting documents to the city clerk is typically a routine process in local government, but the delivery of three boxes full of paperwork at Newport Beach City Hall Friday morning was a historical step.
About a dozen supporters and members of the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter submitted their signed recall petition, the first of its kind in Newport Beach, to City Clerk Leilani Brown at 8 a.m. Friday. Peotter was elected to City Council in 2014 to represent district 6, which covers Corona del Mar.
“We have changed the course of history,” recall supporter Susan Skinner said Friday morning.
It took about two and half hours for city staff to count the 10,688 signatures.
There were mixed emotions as the group handed over the paperwork. Some cheered for what they felt they accomplished, while others reflected on what led them to this point.
“This is a solemn moment,” Skinner said. “It’s not done lightly.”
Among the group present throughout the morning were recall effort leaders Lynn Swain and Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank; 2018 district 6 candidates Joy Brenner and Mike Toerge; and local leaders, including former state assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer and former Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry.
Recall proponents had until Monday to file the petition. They need to have 15 percent of registered Newport Beach voters, or 8,445 valid signatures. Orange County Registrar of Voters has 30 business days to verify signatures.
Skinner said residents from all over the city signed the petition. They have been talking with citizens and collecting signatures for the last six months.
“It was truly a grassroots effort,” Brewer said.
If there are the appropriate number of signatures, a “Certificate of Sufficiency” is taken to Council at the regular meeting following receipt of the verification, Brown explained in an email last week.
Council has two weeks after receiving the certificate to call the election. The special election is held not less than 88 days, nor more than 125 days, after the date the election is called.
The group served Peotter notice of the recall during an April council meeting.
For their reasoning, the group cited Peotter’s support of the Museum House residential tower project and other development in Newport Beach, not conducting himself in a civil manner, not respecting the law, and insulting his colleagues, constituents, and other officials, among other issues.
On Friday, Skinner carried a copy of the nearly 1,100-page Museum House petition as a symbol of her “tipping point.”
“Everyone here has a different reason, but this is my reason,” she said, motioning to the 3-inch stack of paper.
Peotter has been out of step with the majority of Newport Beach residents, Brenner said in her own statement released later Friday.
“The recall represents the fact that our community wants a representative who listens to their constituents and is not committed to an outside special interest group,” Brenner wrote.
Peotter previously said the effort to recall him is based on his political incorrectness, not that he broke a law or committed an impeachable offense.
There are no legitimate reasons for a recall, he pointed out.
“Usually recalls are reserved for malfeasance…Whereas for me people just have a difference of opinion,” Peotter previously told the Indy.
“These are issue that should be hashed out during a regular election, not special recall election,” he added.
This is a waste of time and money, Peotter said.
A major point of contention is how much a special election for a recall could potentially cost: The recall committee contends that it would be around $300,000 while Peotter and his supporters estimate it would be higher, around $500,000.
“According to the county’s estimate, if the city had a stand-alone special election, it could cost over $300,000,” Brown previously confirmed to the Indy. “There are a lot of variables involved in the cost.”
The recall committee previously, and again on Friday, noted that Peotter could resign.
“If Peotter is really interested in saving tax dollars, he can recognize this public rejection of his extreme political agenda and resign.” Skinner said in a prepared statement.
The recall effort and the signatures on the petition send a clear message that residents want a change, Swain added in the press release.
“We need a city council member who will represent residents, not special interests,” Swain said. “The rest of the city council should view this as a wakeup call.”