The signature-gathering phase of a recall election for District Attorney George Gascón can begin, according to a letter obtained by The Signal on Thursday. The approval paves the way for opponents of the county’s top lawyer to begin collecting enough signatures for a recall election.
In a letter sent to recall organizers Thursday, Laticia McCorkle, the assistant division manager for election information and preparation vision for the county, wrote that the amended petition for recall — which organizers had to submit a handful of times due to formatting errors — submitted May 17 was approved.
The petition, according to the letter, will now have until Oct. 27 to gain a total of 579,062 signatures — or no less than 10% of the registered voters in L.A. County.
Officials at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office confirmed the contents of the letter on Thursday.
The calls to strip Gascón of his seat began to gain momentum during his first few weeks in office, after he passed a number of controversial initiatives and executive orders. During his election, the former San Francisco deputy chief of police and district attorney billed himself as a reformer, seeking to end a number of policies that he and his supporters viewed as instruments of systemic racism and draconian legal code.
His reforms after taking the oath of office in December included stopping capital punishment for L.A. County cases and mitigating a number of the punishments for non-violent crimes. One of the more controversial policies, Gascón also heavily limited prosecutors’ ability to seek sentencing enhancements — a way in which charges gain added years if there are particular circumstances involved in the case.
For instance, the estranged husband who stabbed and killed Michelle Dorsey on April 15 at her Saugus home did have sentencing enhancements added to the five counts he pleaded no contest to this week. Investigators have said that with sentencing enhancements, James Dorsey 42, would have received life without parole, but it is now possible that he will serve a possible maximum 20 years behind bars.
The District Attorney’s Office had not responded to a request for comment as of the publication of this article.
Officials apart of the official Recall George Gascón petition said in their announcement on Thursday that the petition would be available to download online by Friday afternoon. If they meet the threshold of required signatures, the recall election would take place in 2022.
“George Gascón got elected by disguising a radical, dangerous, and pro-criminal agenda as ‘criminal justice reform,’ but that’s not what he is doing,” said Desiree Andrade, organizer and spokesperson for the Recall George Gascón campaign. “What he failed to mention was that he would cater to the most heinous offenders in our society at the expense of victims and let cold-blooded killers back onto our streets.”
The announcement from the organizers adds that there is a “growing number” of city councils taking votes of no confidence in the district attorney, Santa Clarita among them. Members of Gascón’s own department have vocalized their opposition in recent months to their boss.
“Victims, survivors, their family members and all Angelenos are not ‘irrelevant’ or ‘uneducated,’” said Jon Hatami, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and prosecutor. “Public safety is not a Republican or Democratic value, it’s a human value. The DA has failed to make our communities safer for children, families and all Angelenos. I stand with all my fellow Angelenos against this injustice.”
Recall organizers – Victims of Violent Crime for the Recall of District Attorney Gascón – said they plan to host a press conference at the Los Angeles Hall of Justice in the coming days to formally kick-off the petition drive.