Bulletin: Spellman recall effort fails. See Breaking News above.
By Alex George
District 5 Supervisor Darren Spellman clashed with recall petition organizers at the Elections Department Monday afternoon. Spellman was on hand to see whether his opponents, including former supervisor Russ Thomas, were able to obtain the 1,702 signatures necessary to trigger a recall election.
Both parties exchanged jabs, with Spellman accusing Thomas of "sour grapes" from last year's defeat. Thomas shrugged it off. Spellman also questioned the cost of a special election and said the county would have to bear the cost of his unemployment compensation if he is ousted.
Spellman then questioned the motives of other recall petitioners, including Bill and Marti Crane. Marti Crane has said she will be a candidate to replace Spellman if the recall succeeds.
"It's very disingenuous that your wife is also a candidate and yet she is out there collecting signatures and accosting people in parking lots," Spellman said to Bill Crane.
Bill Crane took offense to the word "accosting," and the two got into a shouting match before being interrupted by County Clerk Madeline Krska, who asked the two men to take the argument outside.
When Crane said he would be glad to take Spellman outside, Spellman declared Crane's words a threat and called the county Sheriff's Office to request an escort from the Government Center.
Elections Department workers will examine the stack of petitions submitted Monday to determine if enough signatures, 25 percent of the total votes cast in the last election, are valid signatures of voters who reside in District 5 as it existed in November 2010.
If enough signatures are obtained, the petition will go in front of the county Board of Supervisors for approval. If approved, the board will set a date for the recall election. An election must take place within 120 days of the board approving a recall.
Regardless of whether petition organizers reached their goal this go-round, there is no restriction on pursuing another recall effort. However, District 5 recall organizer Michael McDaniel does not expect a second effort to play out until after the New Year.
"We expect Spellman to implode on his own," McDaniel said. "His own main supporters are unhappy with him. If his own constituency is unhappy, then re-election is out of the ballpark."
While McDaniel would not name names, he was insistent that many of Spellman's former supporters said they would not vote for him again if given the opportunity.
"If we do not get the signatures, I think his own people will get him to step down," McDaniel said.
According to recall organizers, 1,200 signatures came from Rancho Calaveras, a subdivision where Spellman lives. Rancho Calaveras is the core of the newly formed District 5, although signatures were gathered from the old pre-redistricting district that encompassed Copperopolis as well when Spellman won election in November 2010.
"These people are from his own district," McDaniel said. "They have a very strong opinion about him in Rancho."
In addition to Rancho Calaveras, McDaniel said he saw strong support for recall from parents, and younger voters who were former students of Spellman.
"A lot of kids said they voted for Spellman because he gave them good grades," McDaniel said. "And many parents said they initially voted for him because their kids recommended him."
Spellman ousted incumbent Thomas last year, who fell out of favor with voters after a series of controversies, including his support for the Trinitas golf course in Wallace and a heated debate about whether Rancho Calaveras should be included in the Valley Springs Community Plan.
Once elected, however, Spellman incensed some voters by making inflammatory accusations against members of the public and his colleagues on the board, announcing he intended to run for Congress and using his position as a member of the Board of Supervisors to threaten the job of a high school teacher.
Despite critics, Spellman has stood by his work as District 5 Supervisor.
"I set up to do the job because I wanted to make a difference in my community," Spellman said. "And I think I am."
Contact Alex George at email@example.com.