Group seeking to recall Alameda DA Pamela Price can now collect signatures

The recall effort has little precedent in Alameda County

The group seeking to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced Thursday that it had received permission from the county’s Registrar of Voters to begin collecting signatures, marking a significant step forward in their effort to remove the county’s top prosecutor.

The Save Alameda for Everyone (SAFE) campaign: Recall DA Carl Chan, a recall leader and the government affairs chair of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said Pamela Price now has 160 days to collect 73,195 valid signatures from registered voters in the county. He stated that the group intends to collect at least 100,000 signatures over the next five and a half months in order to meet the county’s threshold, which could cost up to $1 million.

Chan stated that he was “ecstatic” to have finally reached this latest, critical stage.

“Everything is about public safety in people’s minds,” Chan stated. “We must rebuild not only the system, but also people’s trust.” We want to send a strong message that there must be consequences for people who commit crimes.”

Messages left with Price’s campaign by this news organization were not immediately returned.

The announcement on Thursday is the second recall attempt against a Bay Area district attorney in recent years, following the removal of San Francisco’s own progressive DA, Chesa Boudin, from office in a nationally watched campaign in June 2022.

In Alameda County, there is little precedent for the East Bay recall effort. County Counsel Donna Ziegler stated in mid-August that no recall election had been held in the county in at least 30 years — “if ever.”

Even so, organizers of the recall face a difficult task in getting the question before voters.

Campaign strategists generally assume that only about 70% of signatures submitted to county election officials are valid. It’s a conservative estimate based on a number of factors, including people signing petitions twice and people from other counties signing local petition forms. People may sign a petition even if they are not registered to vote.

While Boudin was recalled in San Francisco, other efforts to recall district attorneys failed before they even reached the ballot box. Opponents of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, another progressive prosecutor, for example, failed to collect enough valid signatures in 2022 to qualify for a recall election.

“It’s just a matter of time and money,” said Oakland political consultant Jim Ross, noting that such efforts can cost anywhere from $6 to $10 per signature. “It’s not anything else — it’s just how many people can you put on the street gathering signatures.”

The recall campaign, according to Chan, is still training volunteers on how to collect signatures and is nearing an agreement to hire professional signature gatherers to help with the effort. He stated that the organization intends to hold a kickoff rally in the near future.

Price has been repeatedly chastised by recall organizers for her efforts to reduce prison sentences and the number of sentencing enhancements filed against criminal defendants. They have cited Price’s handling of multiple murder prosecutions, including the shooting death of a Fremont toddler on Interstate 880, as evidence that she is not tough enough on crime.

Price, a longtime civil rights attorney who was appointed DA in January, has criticized long prison sentences as a relic of the country’s racist response to crime, which has devastated communities of color and resulted in unnecessary mass incarceration of criminals. She has been a vocal critic of law enforcement and has taken steps to reopen misconduct cases against police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Price sent the recall petition’s organizers a bulleted list of 17 accomplishments she claimed her team had achieved during her first eight months in office in her formal response to the recall petition.

Among those items were the filing of charges in 7,610 cases, 58 of which were murder cases, as well as the expansion of the DA’s felony trial team and mental health courts, as well as “embracing high-tech tools to deliver fair justice faster for victims.” She also touted the hiring of 98 attorneys and other staff members, as well as the formation of “the most diverse class of victim-witness advocates ever.”

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