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Gilroy
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February 5, 2023

County finds Armendariz recall petition is ‘insufficient’

A nearly year-long effort to recall Gilroy City Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz, which could have cost the city up to $2 million, ended Nov. 28 when county elections officials determined the petition was insufficient.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters notified the City of Gilroy on Nov. 28 that a random sampling of 500 signatures found that only 383 were valid.

“The random sampling showed that the number of valid signatures is less than 90 percent of the number of signatures required,” Voter Registration Election Division Coordinator Juila Saenz wrote in a letter to City Clerk Thai Nam Pham. “Per Elections Code section 11225 (d), ‘If the statistical sampling shows that the number of valid signatures is less than 90 percent of the required number, the elections official shall certify the petition to be insufficient.’

“Based on the Random Sampling formula, 4,744 signatures are projected to be valid. This petition required 6,217 valid signatures to be found sufficient; therefore, this petition is insufficient.”

According to a breakdown provided by the Registrar of Voters, the random sample of 500 signatures found that, among other issues, nearly 60 were from people who were not registered to vote, while 26 were registered at an address different from the one they supplied.

Proponents seeking to recall Armendariz turned in 6,375 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Oct. 12.

City officials confirmed that a preliminary count of the signatures was above the minimum of 6,217 required for filing. The signatures were taken to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters for verification.

Proponents of the recall have been gathering signatures since mid-June. They point to a city-commissioned investigation by Hanson Bridgett that concluded Armendariz violated several city ordinances after helping organize a 2021 Halloween party at her residence that ended with the shooting death of two men and injuries to two others. Armendariz was issued 10 administrative citations.

In a letter posted to the city’s website, Pham wrote that a special election could cost the city between $1,243,274-$2,020,320, according to figures by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

In a statement, the Committee to Recall Rebeca Armendariz, the group behind the effort, said they felt they were successful in other ways, despite the determination from the county.

“It was never our intent to have this go to a special election,” the statement read. “Rather, our goal was to provide the Gilroy community an opportunity to ask that Ms. Armendariz step down. We were successful in that effort. More than 20% of the registered voters want her to step down.”

“Ms. Armendariz has failed the community of Gilroy,” the statement continued. “The Gilroy community clearly wants Ms. Armendariz to step down. By not doing so, she is proving that she is a self-servant rather than a public servant.”

Armendariz did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

In early October, Armendariz said she would not resign from her position. She announced her stance during an Oct. 3 meeting where a majority of the council requested she relinquish her seat if the recall effort against her qualified for the ballot.

Of the more than 20 people who spoke during the meeting, most asked Armendariz to stay in her seat and reject the call to resign.

Armendariz was first elected in 2020, with her term ending in 2024.

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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