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Harlan: This is not the time to recall Righeimer

October 20, 2012|By Jeffrey Harlan

With election day approaching quickly, it seems Costa Mesans are not at a loss for finding new ways to muddy the political waters. Take former City Council candidate and math teacher Chris McEvoy's recent announcement of his intent to file a recall petition of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer.

At the Oct. 16 council meeting, the last before the Nov. 6 election, McEvoy declared his objective to collect the required number of voter signatures to unseat Righeimer.

I understand McEvoy's frustration with this council and Righeimer in particular, and I appreciate his desire to see a change in our leadership as quickly as possible. But I believe an initiative to recall Righeimer now is misguided.

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First, the timing is suspect. With only 16 days until the election, this announcement seems unnecessarily political. While I have no doubt that McEvoy is genuine, I don't think a recall effort adds anything now to our public discourse.

For many people, the upcoming election is a referendum on Righeimer, the architect of the proposed charter (Measure V), anyway.

As much as I may disagree with his policies and especially his approach, I believe Righeimer represents a constituency in our community. Obviously, that constituency has a right to be heard in our civic conversation, and the mayor pro tem is not shy about serving as its mouthpiece. His supporters should, for the time being, have their advocate sitting on the dais.

And while I suspect that the size of his constituency may have shrunken considerably since he took office almost 22 months ago, Righeimer earned his seat and should keep it for the remainder of his term barring some egregious actions. Certainly McEvoy believes Righeimer's vote on the Banning Ranch traffic-mitigation agreement, the stated basis for initiating a recall, rises to this level.

I don't necessarily disagree; in fact, I think there's a laundry list of Righeimer's actions that meet this standard. However, I'd prefer to see Costa Mesans focus on today's ballot issues — Measure V and council replacements — and address Righeimer's status at a later date.

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