Effort to oust Riverside Councilmember Gaby Plascencia fail

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A measure to recall Riverside City Councilwoman Gaby Plascencia won’t make the ballot.

Recall petitions were not submitted by the 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, deadline for turning in signatures, Assistant City Clerk Eva Arseo said.

Recall organizer Ana Sofia Miramontes said her team did not turn in petitions because the campaign did not gather enough signatures.

Miramontes said in a text message that more than 2,000 people signed petitions to remove Plascencia from her Ward 5 council seat. However, about 4,300 signatures were needed to force a recall election.

Plascencia, the first Latina to serve on the Riverside City Council, said in an emailed statement that her work for the community resonated “against the baseless attacks on her record.”

“The will of the voters have spoken,” Plascencia said in the statement. “When Ward 5 voters elected me in 2019, they knew they would have a voice on the council. I will continue to be that voice and be accessible to the needs of our city and our residents.”

Miramontes said the coronavirus pandemic was a factor in not reaching the required number of signatures.

“COVID prevented us from going door to door,” she said. “Constituents were very hesitant to open doors.”

A phone campaign yielded hundreds of signatures from people who asked to have petitions brought to them to sign, Miramontes said.

“But it was not enough,” she said.

Recall campaigns are “extremely difficult” to pursue, Miramontes said. “The pandemic made it that much harder.”

The city clerk’s office earlier said organizers had 120 days to obtain signatures from 20% of 21,501 registered voters in Plascencia’s ward, or about 4,300, to qualify for the ballot.

Riverside resident and Plascencia backer Frances Vasquez called the recall effort “unfounded.”

“Gaby has not committed any grievous offenses to have merited a recall,” Vasquez said. “She always worked hard for her community, not just the 5th Ward but the entire city of Riverside.”

Vasquez said she believes Ward 5 residents showed their disapproval by refusing to support the recall.

“They did not sign off on this and I’m glad to hear that,” she said.
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The recall campaign website maintained Plascencia should be booted out of office because she “proposed to punitively cut businesses off from water and electricity” for flouting coronavirus rules, sought to remove city commissioners based on race and gender, and voted to approve a 50-unit housing complex for homeless and low-income people at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

The utility shutoff plan was brought to the council Nov. 17 by the city manager’s office, and the City Council deferred action on the matter.

Plascencia launched, then dropped, an attempt to remove Sean Mill from the Riverside Planning Commission in January 2020. At the time, she said that Mill, the man she beat to capture a council seat, was unethical and she wanted to create more ethnically diverse commissions.

In December, the City Council affirmed an ethics board finding that Plascencia discriminated against Mill. The council also affirmed a finding that she used her position for personal gain, by trying to remove Mill from the Arlington Business Partnership. However, the council earlier tossed out other findings of ethics violations.

As for approval of the housing complex, Plascencia was one of six council members who voted for it in March 2020.

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