A petition to recall Mayor Jean Quan is undergoing its third draft by the Oakland city clerk and should soon be coming to a street corner near you.
Once Clerk LaTonda Simmons signs off on the legal language required by the elections code, author Gene Hazzard will have 160 days to gather 19,109 valid signatures -- 10 percent of registered voters counted in the last election -- to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot, Simmons said.
To ensure they have enough valid signatures, Hazzard and others who are organizing the recall petition will have to gather thousands more than that number.
Hazzard said he has a system and is confident that he will be able to collect more than enough signatures to qualify the petition for the election, even though he does not intend to pay signature gatherers.
Perhaps the bigger questions are who might run if the recall makes it on the ballot, and whether or not the election uses ranked-choice voting as required for mayoral elections in the Oakland charter, or the traditional single-candidate-choice election system used by the state of California. The city defers to state elections code for recalls.
Despite the successful recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, experts say recalls are not easy to achieve. An online effort to recall former Mayor Ron Dellums never got off the ground. But Quan said she has to take it seriously.
"Friends of mine are moving to (counter the recall), but I wish
Quan pointed out that she has been in office just 11 months.
"It's so unfair," she said. "I'm the first Asian-American mayor of a major American city. They are not going to take me out without a fight."
The optimism of Quan's early days was overshadowed by the rising crime rate and the departure of City Attorney John Russo and popular police Chief Anthony Batts. Then came Occupy Oakland, which has been a public-relations nightmare for the mayor.
Joe Tuman, a political and legal communications professor at San Francisco State who came in fourth in the mayor's race, said he is not involved with the recall attempt. He would not say whether he would run if the recall made it to the ballot.
"There is nothing to run for now, so I'm not a candidate," Tuman said. "I'm disappointed with the mayor; I join a lot of people in the city who are for a lot of reasons. But expressing disappointment with her does not mean I'm involved."
Don Link, chairman of the Shattuck Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, said people behind the recall were unhappy with Quan from the start. And those people who are using their dissatisfaction with Quan's handling of Occupy Oakland as a reason to sign a recall petition are out of touch with all the progress the mayor has made during her short time in office, he said.
"I don't think it's fair, given the number of initiatives she's started, such as the 100-block program to combat crime, the trips to China to bring business to Oakland, the money she is bringing to the Oakland Army Base," Link said. "She's got about 20 projects going at the same time. Then there was the huge distraction of Occupy. There were a couple of missteps with that, but she had the courage to come out and say she was wrong."
City Council member Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) said he has butted heads with the mayor on many issues. Her handling of the Occupy camp and reluctance to support measures that might reduce violent crime, such as curfews and gang injunctions, is creating a "perfect storm" of discontent among voters throughout the city, he said. Still, that doesn't necessarily translate into action by voters, he added.
"I'm not going to spend time on the recall, but if it happens, I will spend time looking at who is running," he said. "Candidly, (whether I decide to run) all depends on the field of candidates, then I probably will have no choice."
Contact Cecily Burt at 510-208-6441. Follow her on Twitter.com/csburt.