It looks like George Barich is the first city councilman in Sonoma County to lose a recall election in a generation.
With both precincts reporting, about two-thirds of Cotati voters are supporting the recall. It’s beyond unlikely that any remaining absentee ballots will change the outcome.
I couldn’t immediately find a record of a previously successful city council recall in Sonoma County, but three recalls have failed since 1973, including another one in Cotati.
In 2004, two Rohnert Park council members survived a recall effort that grew out of a revenue-sharing deal with the Graton Rancheria, which is still pursuing plans for a casino just outside Rohnert Park.In 1998, three Windsor council members survived a recall driven by the city’s growth wars. And so did three Cotati council members in 1973.
Sonoma County voters also opposed California’s best known recent recall – the 1993 vote that removed Gov. Gray Davis from office.
In 1976, however, voters recalled county Supervisors Bill Kortum and Chuck Hinkle. Ostensibly, the recall was based on the supervisors’ vote to increase property taxes. But it targeted a board majority that was seen as unfriendly to developers. That probably wouldn’t fly these days.
If there’s a silver lining for Barich – and it’s tough to find one – it’s this: There were a little more than 1,000 votes cast to recall him, but he got almost 1,300 in the general election 54 weeks ago.
Barich was a regular at Cotati City Council meetings when I covered them in the 1990s, and I’m guessing he’ll be right back in the audience when the new council convenes. Its upcoming tasks include picking a successor for John Guardino, who quit the council a few weeks ago.
— Jim Sweeney