Pictured: Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.
by Kimberly Rivers
Proponents of a recall effort for Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks have requested more time in which to obtain the over 11,000 signatures required to have Parks recalled. Mark Lunn, Ventura County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, has told the recall effort that there is no “discretion” in the timeline for obtaining the signature, and therefore he’s unable to allow any extension.
An Aug. 30 letter to Lunn’s office signed by Agoura Hills-based attorney Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy requested a 90-day extension beyond the allowed 160 days to obtain signatures, citing the extension granted by the courts to add 63 days onto the signature gathering efforts for the recall effort for Governor Gavin Newsom.
According to Baldwin-Kennedy, the extension is needed due to pandemic restrictions at locations where signatures are normally gathered and “confusion” regarding the recall of Newsom. The election for that recall falls on Sept. 14, the same day as the deadline for signature submission for the effort to recall Parks. Baldwin-Kennedy said that “has made it difficult” to collect signatures.
The letter submitted on behalf of the recall effort called obtaining the required 11,067 signatures, or 10% of registered voters, in the supervisor’s district a “substantial undertaking.” State law gives 160 days from the date of petition certification to signature submission. The recall petition was certified by Lunn’s office on April 8, 2021, giving the recall effort until Sept. 14 to collect and submit the required signatures to get the recall on a ballot.
Baldwin-Kennedy’s letter also cited pandemic restrictions “imposed by the State and Ventura County Board of Supervisors . . . in response to rising Covid-19 numbers,” which have “severely inhibited” the ability to circulate petitions for the recall effort.
She wrote that due to the pandemic the typical places where signatures would be gathered “are restricted by mask and social distasting (sic).” She stated that “voters are more hesitant to engage with signature gather[ers]” due to “the raising fear of the uptick with COVID-19 numbers and the Delta Variant.” The recall effort has so far been able to obtain 7,500 signatures.
Recall proponents cite the business closure restrictions put in place over the past year, and the lawsuits filed by the county against businesses that refused to shut their doors, as reasons for the recall. County officials repeatedly said the lawsuits were seeking compliance with state-imposed mandates, and the actions were all ultimately dropped.
Recall organizers said they plan to recall all Ventura County Supervisors who supported the business closure requirements and lawsuits.
According to required documents filed with the Ventura County Elections division, Conejo Valley Cares, the committee organizing the recall effort, has raised a total of $14,767 in support of their efforts.
One major contributor is Deborah Baber, who received notoriety during the pandemic last year when videos of her appearances during public comment at meetings of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors made national news and appeared on at least one late night talk show. Baber strongly opposed mask wearing mandates and the closure of businesses. She has contributed $3,555 which was spent on “legal fees” and recall “paraphernalia.” The funds also paid for “materials” created by Baber in support of the recall effort.
Other major supporters of the recall include the restaurant Ms. Olson’s Coffee Hut in Channel Islands Harbor, one of the businesses the county sued when it refused to close, which has contributed $3,000 to the recall effort.
John Von Colln of Thousand Oaks and owner of VC Defense, a Thousand Oaks-based firearm retailer, contributed $1,600.
The recall committee has paid $2,247 to Sacramento-based law firm Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, which according to its website specializes in political and election law.
Parks will term out as supervisor in 2023, being unable to run again due to term limits.