Grover Beach voters want judge to order city to accept recall petitions

May 22, 2024


On Thursday, May 23, at 9 a.m., Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen will be asked by a grassroots volunteer group of Grover Beach voters to uphold U.S. and California election laws and order Grover Beach City Clerk Wendy Sims to approve their recall petitions so that the recall can be placed on the November ballot.

The case is brought by GROVER H2O against the City of Grover Beach and City Clerk Wendi Sims. Councilman Daniel Rushing is an interested party.

In California, voters have the right to recall elected officials when they are dissatisfied with the officials’ performance. GROVER H2O asserts that the city has interfered with their fundamental participatory democracy rights by unlawfully rejecting legally compliant recall petitions for Mayor Karen Bright and council members Daniel Rushing and Zach Zimmerman.

Recall procedures require proponents to collect a certain number of voter signatures to initiate a recall and submit the signatures and a draft petition to the elections official, who has 10 business days to determine if the proposed form and wording of the petition substantially comply with the Elections Code, in which case the elections official must approve the petition. Without this approval, the petitions to place the recall on the ballot cannot be circulated.

During the 10-day period, a voter or the clerk, according to a new law, effective Jan. 2023, may challenge allegedly false or misleading material in the petition in superior court by seeking a writ of mandate or an injunction requiring amendments or deletions. A judge may only act if there is clear and convincing proof that the material in question is false, misleading, or inconsistent with the requirements of election law.

The California legislature established this system so an impartial judge will decide whether language is false or misleading, rather than the elections official. This is good public policy since most election officials are appointed by the elected officials being recalled. Indeed, it was the officials being recalled who authorized the expenditure of city funds to defend the city, the city clerk, and Councilman Rushing.

Grover H2O first submitted its draft petition in January. The clerk responded with formatting and punctuation changes to which the proponents completely conformed. However, instead of approving the conforming petitions, the clerk made a new round of changes, requiring the 153 proponents to remove two of their reasons for recall. She also required Councilman Zimmerman’s answer to the recall to be included even though he missed the statutory deadline.

The proponents went a total of six rounds attempting to resolve the matter, including hiring an attorney who offered twice to negotiate. The city refused, thus dragging it out until it was too late to recall the mayor and Councilman Zimmerman who are up for election in November. Councilman  Rushing’s term expires in 2026.

Having exhausted every other option, GROVERH2O sued the City. Grover H2O proponents state that the city’s censorship of their reasons for recall is a blatant violation of free speech and due process protections.

According to GROVER H2O volunteer Lesley Marr, “The City, City Council, and Elections Clerk have censored our petitions, violating our rights to free speech, due process, and the right to participate in the electoral process, which are rights expressly protected by the U.S. and California constitutions. Despite our efforts to negotiate, the city refused, thus risking a special election that could cost hundreds of thousands.”

The case can be viewed Live at SLO Superior Court,1050 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo Rm 220  D2 Judge van Rooyen, or via ZOOM.

Debbie Peterson served as mayor of Grover Beach from 2012 through 2014, as a city council member from 2008 through 2012 and from 2016 through 2019, and as a planning commissioner from 2004 through 2008. For more information, contact Debbie Peterson at (805) 550-4490.


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In case you missed the other report, the Judge ruled AGAINST the city and the city clerk. GROVER H20 can go ahead with the petition as written.

It might be something I’m doing wrong, but the ZOOM link takes me to a page that says “meeting does not exist”. So much for transparency.

It seems clear the city clerks priorities are to do whats best for the city council and manager instead of assisting the residents.

Drain the swamp! Rushing is a total failure to his community.

Kudos to GROVER H2O for asserting their rights. The bad news is Van Rooyen is the judge.

Is Grover Beach competing with San Simeon and Oceano to become the worst managed community in SLO County.

Don’t leave out AG, they are just better so far at hiding it, financially AG is a mess.