Recalls appear successful against 3 Fullerton council members
The beating death of a mentally ill homeless man by Fullerton police appeared to be upending local politics Tuesday as voters were on pace to recall three City Council members criticized for their tepid response to an incident that garnered national headlines.
In early returns, council members Richard “Dick” Jones, Pat McKinley and Don Bankhead were being beaten by 2-to-1 margins.
Leading in votes to replace them were Fullerton Planning Commissioner Travis Kiger, attorney Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn, a businessman and educator.
Jones, McKinley and Bankhead were criticized by many in the community for not aggressively dealing with the alleged police brutality caught on surveillance cameras. Eventually, Fullerton’s police chief stepped down, and two of the officers involved were criminally charged.
The recall campaign was bankrolled by businessman Tony Bushala, a Libertarian-leaning political activist often at odds with the council majority that was targeted. Some accused Bushala of exploiting Thomas’ death.
Also late Tuesday:
- Former state Assemblyman Todd Spitzer appeared to be handily defeating fellow Republican Deborah Pauly for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Spitzer raised more than $1 million for the campaign. Pauly, an outspoken Villa Park councilwoman, caught heat for protesting an Islamic charity she equated with terrorists. She was ousted last month from a leadership position on the county’s GOP central committee.
- Supervisor Janet Nguyen appeared headed for reelection, beating former Orange school board member and serial political candidate Steve Rocco.
- Future county supervisors would get lower pensions under a measure that was leading by a 3-to-1 margin in early returns. Measure B would give board members the least-generous pension formula available to county employees.
-- Mike Anton in Orange County
Photo: Travis Kiger, center, speaks after the first results came in as his campaign manager Chris Thompson, left, celebrates during a election party in Fullerton. Credit: Anne Cusack \ Los Angeles Times