Downey councilwoman faces Jan. 31 recall

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By Arnold Adler

Contributing Writer

DOWNEY — Voters in District 3, on the city’s northwest side, will vote Jan. 31 on whether to recall Mayor Pro Tem Catherine Alvarez, who serves that district; but voters will have to wait for the November 2024 election to decide on an ordinance which calls for a minimum wage of $25 an hour for all health care workers in the city.

The City Council formally received from the county Oct. 11 verification of signatures on the recall initiative and the petition challenging the minimum wage ordinance.

The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters determined that of the 4,700 signatures on the petition to recall Alvarez, 3,881 were registered voters in District 3. Only 3,471 signatures were needed to force a recall vote, City Clerk Alicia Duarte said in a report to the City Council.

Residents in the minimum wage petition, a citywide effort, turned in 17,251 signatures of which 10,871 were deemed qualified. Only 6,452 names were needed, Duarte said.

Elected in November 2020, Alvarez was served recall papers in July but final petitions handed in to the county fell just short of the number needed to place the item on the ballot.

Recall supporters in the summer effort alleged Alvarez had not followed election rules and did not mention an alleged misdemeanor citation.

In September they presented the current petition to the city clerk’s office which was sent to the county for signature verification. That was received earlier this month.

Alvarez did not respond to a request for comment.

A housing rights advocate, Alvarez worked with and is a member of the Downey Tenants Union and other activist groups.

Under state law, the council was required to set a special election on a Tuesday, which is not before a state holiday and which is not less than 88 days after ordering the vote. That means the election had to be between Jan. 7 and Feb. 13, Duarte said.

Narrowing the choices, the county said Jan. 10 and 17 were inconvenient because of other activities, leaving Jan. 24, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.

Should Alvarez be recalled, her replacement will be elected at a later date in 2023, Duarte said.

The City Council could have a second vacancy if Mayor Blanca Pacheco is elected to the 64th Assembly District seat Nov. 8. A Democrat, Pacheco and Roy Ortiz, La Mirada, a Republican, were the top two vote-getters in the June 7 primary.

The minimum wage ordinance was approved in July after a group of residents petitioned the city for a referendum on the issue. The City Council instead decided to make its own ordinance. However, on Aug. 10 another group submitted a petition challenging the city law. The county determined those petitions had sufficient signatures to place the matter before voters.

There is no mandatory schedule for a vote on the ordinance and a stand-alone election could cost the city more than $500,000, county election officials told the city.



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