STOCKTON — A former member of a group trying to recall Mayor Michael Tubbs alleges the committee deceived the public in trying to “keep appearances.”
Amanda Aanerud, an ex-secretary of the recall committee, on Sunday made a public statement on Facebook to say the group misled people to avoid public ridicule and not appear defeated.
“It was for these reasons that we ALL agreed to lie about the number of signatures we had collected,” she wrote. “We did this to keep up moral (sic) and because frankly, we did not want to look like failures.”
The proponents of the recall were given the go-ahead to start circulating a petition on Feb. 13. They were given 160 days to collect the about 16,000 signatures needed to try to recall Tubbs.
The deadline to submit is six weeks away.
Aanerud estimates the recall group has at most 2,500 signatures now, based on an unofficial count done in March, which put them at about 1,600 signatures.
“I could be off by a little, but more than that? I would be floored,” she told The Record.
Aanerud, who created the Save Stockton Recall Tubbs Facebook page, said her decision to make the post public came down to integrity. She said the citizens of Stockton deserve honesty and transparency, and the recall group can’t demand accountability from elected leaders if it can’t hold itself accountable. The breaking point for her came when the group decided recently to continue collecting more signatures and raise money.
“I could not take people’s money for something that has no chance in hell of succeeding,” she said. “I wanted to be able to sleep at night and that’s where it’s at.”
Brenda Vazquez, the chairwoman of the recall committee, said she did not have an estimate on how many signatures have been collected.
She argued that any estimate would be inaccurate because the signatures have not been counted or verified. There are still petitions that need to be collected so it’s unknown where the count stands, she added.
When asked whether the committee lied about the number of signatures, Vazquez quickly said it’s not true and that members never agreed to lie or mislead people about the number.
Vazquez, who was out collecting signatures on Saturday, said she’s moving forward with the recall effort despite the allegations and added that if the community wants this done, it will be a successful campaign.
On Monday, she wrote her own Facebook post, stating: “We knew this would be a major undertaking that Stockton has not seen in the last 30 years. We were driven to action by our combined concerns and moved forward. We did all of the paperwork and heavy lifting to get the recall going with the hope that the community would step up and do their part. … Despite the many challenges we’ve had, both external and internal, we did the heavy lifting of making it possible. At the end of the day it is on the community to respond or continue to allow Mr. Tubbs to use our city for his own personal gain. We will continue to finish as strong as we can with 6 weeks to go and even if we fall short of the goal this time we will take what we learned and decide our next step.”
Aanerud said the failure of the recall comes down to inexperience. She said the group didn’t have guidelines, it didn’t have enough volunteers or money, and there was a lack of organization.
“We didn’t know what we were doing,” Aanerud said. “We were originally dishonest about the number (because they worried about what Tubbs would say) but then we didn’t want to look foolish.”
Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at (209) 546-8264 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlmendraCarpizo.