June 4, 2013 — The end of the long and winding road in the effort to recall Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson is finally in sight. We don’t know who will run against the tveteran supervisor in a special election held this fall — perhaps as early as Sept. 10 — and we don’t know which candidate will collect the most votes from the district’s voters, but we do know an election will be held and this matter will finally be resolved once and for all.
When the recall effort was first announced, Hanson characterized it as an effort to intimidate him and influence his votes on the board.
In fact, to some the recall effort is but one leg of an unsuccessful effort by a group of dissatisfied county residents to take over the Lassen County Board of Supervisors. For example, Tom Stone, the former county administrative officer, cites his wife’s political activism and her involvement with the Tea Party as one of the reasons for his firing in his $1 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the county.
Newly elected District 3 Supervisor Larry Wosick publicly joined the fight for control of county government immediately after Stone’s firing. He said the board “sucked” and predicted Hanson’s recall and the fall of Lassen County District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle in the upcoming election. But both Pyle and Lassen County District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman survived challenges at the polls, and after the election Wosick acknowledged the voters had rejected his vision of the future, and he had accepted their wisdom.
But others see the issue differently. Many South County residents and some of Hanson’s harshest critics allege their supervisor does not represent their interests on the board, and some have said he doesn’t even return their phone calls. They also blame Hanson for his role in the mismanagement of the failed economic development effort in Herlong and the alleged misuse of state and federal grant funding that could have brought economic prosperity to the area. They staunchly believe they need and deserve a new representative on the board.
Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante became embroiled in the conflict when she rejected petitions from the second campaign to recall Hanson because the signatures were contained on a form she had rejected due to the misspelling of a proponent’s name. A judge ordered her to process those petitions, and last week she determined the campaign had collected enough signatures. Next week she will ask the board of supervisors to call for a special election this fall.
While the opinions regarding Hanson’s recall stretch across the political spectrum — and let’s not forget a recall election is a political event — this conflict simply confirms both the integrity and workability of our system.
Yes, it’s taken an awfully long time for this recall campaign to come to fruition, and one could point lots of fingers of blame to explain the delays. But more importantly, the desire of the people to bring this matter to a vote has not be denied, and the proponents’ persistence carried the day. It proves dedicated and involved citizens can and do make a difference. While the wheels of government may move at a snail’s pace sometimes, our system eventually sorts things out and justice finally prevails.
The question of who will represent the interests of Lassen County’s District 5 residents will soon be in the hands of the voters. They will decide either to retain Hanson or elect a new representative.
That’s as it should be. The system is working, and the people’s voice will be heard.
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