Did Grover Beach unlawfully reject recall petitions?

April 28, 2024

Grover Beach City Council


A citizens group in Grover Beach filed a lawsuit Friday accusing the city clerk of unlawfully rejecting their legally-compliant recall petitions for Mayor Karen Bright and councilmen Daniel Rushing and Zach Zimmerman.

“In a blatant violation of free speech and due process protections, respondents have refused to approve recall petitions for Bright and Rushing unless certain statements are removed from those petitions,” according to the lawsuit. “The Constitution and California’s election laws forbid election officials from engaging in this type of unilateral censorship.”

In March, Grover H2O, a citizens group in Grover Beach, turned in more than four times the required signatures to put an initiative to repeal a 112% water rate increase on the November ballot. The group is also working to recall the three council members who voted for the water rate increase: Bright, Rushing and Zimmerman.

On five different occasions, City Clerk Wendi Sims rejected the recall petitions claiming they include statements that are either false or misleading:

  • “Dan Rushing voted to make Grover Beach the industrial area of Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.”
  • “Dan Rushing approved a project to tear up newly repaired residential streets for 16 wells, a mile of pipelines, and a wastewater treatment plant in Grover neighborhoods.”

The city clerk rejected Bright’s recall petition because of language and Zimmerman’s recall petition because it did not include an answer from Zimmerman, who allegedly missed the statutory deadline.

City Clerk Sims sent each  rejection notice on the last possible day and within minutes of the close of business hours:

  • First submission made on Jan. 25, rejected Feb. 5 at 4:55 p.m.
  • Second submission made on Feb. 7, rejected Feb. 20 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Third submission made on Feb. 29, rejected March 11 at 4:56 p.m.
  • Fourth submission made on March 21, rejected April 1 at 4:46 p.m.
  • Fifth submission made on April 4, rejected April 15 at 4:53 p.m.

The lawsuit claims the city clerk needed to file a legal challenge in court, and that she has overstepped her authority. Even though the suit finds issues with each recall petition, because both Bright and Zimmerman are up for election in November, the suit focuses on Rushing’s recall petition.

“The city clerk’s decision to censor political speech from a recall petition is an especially egregious violation of petitioners’ rights to free speech, due process, and the right to participate in the electoral process, which are rights that are expressly protected by the United States and California Constitutions,” according to the lawsuit. “Language can only be stricken when there is “clear and convincing proof that the material in question is false or misleading.”

The plaintiffs, Grover H2O, Debbie Peterson and Brenda Auer, are asking the court to order the city to accept the latest Rushing recall petition, to find the city is in violation of the Election Code, to order the city to only act under legally mandated duties and for legal costs and fees.


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Do these recall petitions ever succeed in removing someone from office? Tired of losing recall efforts.

“On five different occasions, City Clerk Wendi Sims rejected the recall petitions claiming they include statements that are either false or misleading”.

What EXACTLY and in DETAIL where the false and misleading statements?

Paso and Grover seem to have the same clerk…