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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 29th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 22 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 22

Solvang City Council recall election set for November

By Zac Ezzone

In November, Solvang residents will decide whether to recall sitting City Councilmember Chris Djernaes following a successful citizen-led petition effort.


RECALL
On Nov. 3, Solvang residents will decide whether to remove a sitting City Council member from office.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM

Lammy Johnstone, who is leading the recall effort, filed paperwork to begin the process on June 25. The notice Johnstone filed states, among other claims, that Djernaes isn’t respectful to residents and disregards the wishes of the voters. 

During the July 27 City Council meeting, Johnstone said this recall effort should be a wake-up call for everybody else on the dais and for city residents.

“Let this be a lesson to any council member, or mayor, if you do not listen to we the people of Solvang, we will remove you,” Johnstone said. “Your job, as I look at it, is to represent us. If you do not, you will be replaced.” 

For the election to be placed on the ballot, Johnstone needed to gather the signatures of at least 25 percent of the registered voters in Solvang, City Manager Xenia Bradford said during the meeting. On July 20, Johnstone submitted 1,334 signatures to the city, of which the Santa Barbara County Elections Division certified 1,156—exceeding the minimum criteria of 920.

The council approved adding the recall election to the Nov. 3 ballot in a mostly administrative move the council is supposed to perform according to state law, City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt said. If the council didn’t approve setting a date for the election, the Santa Barbara County Elections Division would have done so.

Prior to voting on the issue, Councilmember Robert Clarke said he’d vote in favor of the election to support the will of the voters, but that he finds the effort “odd.”

“In reading the ballot, it was about people feel that Chris is rude, he talks back to people,” Clarke said. “And I thought well, if you recall every ass that’s ever served in public office, there wouldn’t be a lot of people in public office.” 

Djernaes has had contentious moments on the dais with fellow council members as well as residents attending meetings over his two years in office. 

During a recent vote to renew the business license for the Solvang Trolley and Carriage Company, Djernaes engaged in a heated back-and-forth with people attending the meeting, and he left early after the council cut him off before he finished his comments. He was the sole council member to vote against renewing the company’s license.

Djernaes defended the positions he’s taken on different issues during his time in office and said that he believes he stands up for the majority of the city’s residents. 

“Having said that, I look forward to the opportunity of going out and making that case again,” Djernaes said. “If it needs to be done every year, then I will make it so every year.”

In addition to deciding whether to recall Djernaes, Solvang residents will have the chance to vote on who would take over his seat if he is recalled. People interested in running for the potential seat have until Aug. 20 to file paperwork with the city.








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