Three Fullerton Councilmen Ousted

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Reacting to the police beating of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas, voters recalled three Fullerton city councilmen Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting, roughly two-thirds of voters supported the recall for all three incumbents.

The three — former police chief Pat McKinley, Dick Jones and Don Bankhead — were forced into the recall by Fullerton businessman Tony Bushala, who bankrolled the signature-gathering campaign.

They will be replaced by Travis Kiger, Greg Sebourn and Doug Chaffee. Kiger and Sebourn were heavily backed by Bushala. Chaffee beat Bushala-backed candidate Barry Levinson.

The recall battle pitted Bushala’s faction of local Republicans against the three GOP council members, the latest chapter in a years-long rivalry between the two sides.

Thomas, a 37-year-old transient who suffered from untreated schizophrenia, died July 10, five days after he was beaten by Fullerton police at the city bus station.

In the following months, police chief Michael Sellers retired and two of the six officers, Manual Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, were charged with felonies. Ramos was charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

But the recall gained traction after the three council members were slow to show sympathy for Thomas or publicly push for discipline of the police officers.

Bushala, who also runs the blog Friends For Fullerton’s Future, used the recall to call attention to other issues beyond the Thomas beating, including a city water tax that he opposes.

— TRACY WOOD

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