A campaign to recall Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia began in earnest this week when the City Clerk’s Office approved a petition to begin collecting signatures.
According to a letter provided by Assistant City Clerk Allison Bunma, the campaign must gather signatures from 26,503 registered voters by 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 29.
If the signatures are submitted and verified, the recall effort would then qualify for the citywide ballot.
Garcia was not available for comment before deadline Thursday, July 23.
In his official response to the petition, Garcia cited multiple city accomplishments since he was first elected in 2014, including building more affordable housing; reducing police shootings and use of force; and receiving a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for LGBTQ inclusion.
“Mayor Garcia will continue to focus on making the City of Long Beach a leader in education, sustainability and good paying jobs,” the response said.
The primary organizer of the recall campaign, Franklin Sims, said in a phone interview that he decided to begin the process in the wake of the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Sims said that as the case drew national and international outrage, he felt that Garcia took too long to speak out.
“People were marching in the streets, and the mayor was absent,” he said. “He was hiding in his bunker.”
Sims, who received the okay to collect signatures on Wednesday, July 22, also pointed to Garcia’s history of receiving campaign contributions from the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association as further evidence of Sims’s belief that Garcia does not have the interest of Long Beach residents at heart.
“He’s not showing any leadership,” Sims said.
As far as the process to collect signatures goes, Sims said he has a plan to combat the challenge of face-to-face campaigning during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to holding socially distanced rallies in open spaces like parks, Sims said, he and other volunteers have developed what he called the “Uber Eats petition,” referring to Uber’s model of delivering food on demand.
“You can essentially order the petition to let us know, ‘Hey, I want the petition at this time,’” Sims said, and a volunteer will show up and leave it at the door.
“These are unprecedented times,” Sims added, “and a recall is difficult under normal circumstances. Under these circumstances, it’s heightened.”