by Evan Symon at californiaglobe.com
The recall effort against Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao continued to grow this week despite continuing insistence from the Mayor’s office that the recall effort won’t work.
The recall effort officially began on January 7th when recall organizers submitted 250 signatures to serve as an intent to recall notice. Led by former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte, organizers have said that Thao needs to be recalled due to her efforts while Mayor leading to a rise in crime as well as eroding public safety. Since being elected as Mayor in the closest Mayoral election in city history in 2022, violent crimes have skyrocketed. In 2023, burglaries shot up by 23%, with vehicle thefts jumping up by 45% and robberies up 38%. The murder rate also remained high, staying above 100 in a single year for yet another year in a row.
With many believing that Thao has not been addressing crime and public safety concerns, residents began calling for her recall.
“Lives have been lost, property destroyed, businesses have shut down, and fear and collective trauma are daily occurrences for Oaklander,” stated the recall letter on intent. “We, the concerned citizens, therefore demand your recall for the sake of our city’s future.”
Harbin-Forte, the lead organizer, added, “We are imploding in Oakland under her leadership. One of the main reasons for the recall is crime is out of control — along with the firing of the police chief LeRonne Armstrong. It is time to move on. More people are asking when they can sign up.”
The notice of intent specifically noted how the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has been hammered by Thao’s actions, that Thao has failed to declare a state of emergency in the city despite promising to do so and that Armstrong’s firing helped create a public safety crisis that has led to “the city’s reputation as one of the most dangerous in America”, with no replacement for Armstrong being picked yet.
The sudden recall effort against Thao, as well as one against Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price, put Oakland officials on edge. Thao gave a statement against the recall effort, saying she wants Oaklanders to come together and fight for the city.
“I have the best job in the world. That’s because every day I have a chance to fight for a safer, more affordable, and more prosperous Oakland,” said Thao earlier this month. “I ask all Oaklanders to help me achieve that vision with hope and collaboration and push aside fear and division.”