The campaign to recall three Fullerton city councilmen, harshly criticized after the police beating of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas, has qualified for the ballot, the city clerk’s office reported Tuesday.
At its Feb. 21 meeting, the five-member council, including the three recall targets, is scheduled to decide whether to put the recall on the June 5 ballot or call a separate special election, according to City Clerk Lucinda Williams.
Candidates for any openings created by the recall may begin filing with the city clerk later this month and have until March 9 to submit their names.
The effort to recall Councilmen Richard Jones, Pat McKinley and Donald Bankhead has been led by Fullerton businessman and blogger Tony Bushala, who spent about $150,000 of his own money to gather far more than the required 10,554 signatures.
If the recall goes on the June 5 ballot, it would cost between $129,000 and $160,000, Williams estimated. A stand-alone special election would cost between $269,000 and $301,000, she said.
Bushala, who has long been a rival of the three councilmen, used his blog, Friends for Fullerton’s Future, to level harsh criticism at them for mostly remaining silent after the Thomas beating. The three council members have said they simply were following the orders of the city attorney.
The reputations of both the city and its police department have been severely damaged in the aftermath of the beating. Police Chief Michael Sellers went on medical leave within a month of Thomas’ death and never returned. He retires Feb. 18.
— TRACY WOOD