A constituent-led effort to remove Ward 5 Councilmember Gaby Plascencia from her seat failed on Tuesday.
Organizers for the Recall Gaby Plascencia Campaign were unable to submit the amount of petition signatures necessary by Tuesday’s deadline, disqualifying them from adding their proposed measure to the June election ballot– to vote her off the council.
One Riverside resident who co-lead the campaign, Ana Miramontes, said she does not consider the failed attempt a loss, but a message.
“We knew it was going to be extremely difficult,” Miramontes said. “Did we want different results? Yes, but now she’s on notice and the rest of city council’s on notice that unethical behavior is not tolerated.”
She added that the team behind the recall campaign alleged that Councilmember Plascencia violated the city’s Sunshine Ordinance as well as committed ethics violations and used racist rhetoric against a member of the city’s Planning Commission.
Judy Teunissen, Ward 5 resident and cofounder of the Arlington Business Partnership, co-lead the effort to garner signatures for the petition. The team was responsible for collecting 4,300 signatures to support their campaign and as of Tuesday, they had more than 3,000.
According to Teunissen and Miramontes, there were 2,100 voters who elected Plascencia to her Ward 5 seat. “The really glaring fact … for anybody who understands the dynamic of a recall is that we collected more signatures than the amount of people who voted for her,” Teunissen said. “I’m hoping she’ll look at that and change her tactics with how she’s dealing with her ward.”
Paula Horychuk, Ward 5 resident and member of the city’s Cultural Heritage Board, said she has interacted regularly with Councilmember Plascencia and believes the campaign leaders’ allegations were unfounded.
“I think that accusing the first Latina to sit on city council to be racist is clever but kind of absurd,” she said.
In a release yesterday, councilmember Plascencia said that the will of the voters has spoken.
“When Ward 5 voters elected me in 2019, they knew they would have a voice on the council,” Plascencia said in the release. “I will continue to be that voice and be accessible to the needs of our city and our residents.”