Bay Area/ Oakland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 19, 2024
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Faces Recall as Campaign Gathers Enough Signatures for BallotSource: Office of Mayor Sheng Thao, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The tenure of Oakland's Mayor Sheng Thao is on shaky ground as a recall campaign has secured enough signatures to potentially place her removal on the November general election ballot; this latest political shake-up comes less than two years into her term. The Oakland City Clerk's office confirmed that the recall petition has surpassed the required number of signatures, with a total of 40,595 signatures deemed valid out of the 41,530 submitted by the campaign, as reported by Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao (OUST).

Under state law, the likelihood that the recall will be folded into the November general election is high and it comes at a time when Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price also faces a recall, marking an unprecedented event in Oakland’s 172-year history. While recall campaigns have been gaining prominence across California, the turnout to oust Thao signals widespread discontent with her administration, which critics have cited mismanagement contributing to citywide issues.

The recall has been a driving force spearheaded by Brenda Harbin-Forte, a former Superior Court judge and police commissioner, triggered in part by Thao’s contentious decision to fire former Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong in the wake of an internal cover-up scandal. Thao also faced backlash for not securing a state grant aimed at helping combat retail theft and the loss of the Oakland A's to Las Vegas, according to The Oaklandside. Seneca Scott, a local activist and a leading figure in the recall campaign, has been active on social media, reflecting the campaigners' sentiment that Thao's leadership has failed the city.

In response to the recall efforts, Mayor Thao has formed a committee entitled "Oaklanders Defending Democracy, Oppose the Recall of Mayor Thao," which is aimed at raising funds to counteract the recall; her administration, which previously dismissed the campaign, is now preparing for what may become another rigorous campaign season, Thao has pointed to her support for programs like Ceasefire, an anti-violence initiative, and her backing of outside investments as key successes of her mayoralty, as outlined in The Mercury News. The City Council is expected to deliberate on placing the recall on the November ballot during a July 2 meeting, given the current trajectory, Mayor Sheng Thao and DA Pamela Price would be facing their political fates at the same time.