City Council to hold vote on Gascón recall

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

After expressing their disapproval of his actions over the last year, the Santa Clarita City Council is expected to take up a vote Tuesday evening on whether to support the recall effort against  L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón.  

According to the council meeting agenda, the vote comes after Santa Clarita has seen an increase in Part I crimes — such as assault, burglary, grand theft and arson — over the past four months.  

In year-to-date data provided by the city to The Signal, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station reported 982 Part 1 crimes in 2021 and 1,253 in 2022, or a 27.6% increase. However, the year-to-date data between 2017 and 2022 shows a 17.78% decrease in crime.   

According to the agenda item, the problems between Gascón and the City Council began after he took office in December 2020 and enacted a series of directives that included the elimination of cash bail for a number of non-violent and misdemeanor crimes, the elimination of sentencing enhancements and allegations, and the mitigation of penalties against those who commit misdemeanor crimes.  

“On March 9, 2021, the City Council became the first local government to adopt a resolution of a vote of no confidence in District Attorney Gascón, citing significant concerns and opposition to some of the Special Directives unilaterally adopted in December 2020, including Special Directives 20-06, 20-07, and 20-08,” the agenda item reads. “Since the City Council’s actions in March 2021, over 30 other cities have also adopted a vote of no confidence in District Attorney Gascón, resulting in over one-third of all cities in Los Angeles County adopting a vote of no confidence in District Attorney Gascón.” 

In the motion, city staff cite the death of Michelle Dorsey, who was murdered after being stabbed multiple times in her Saugus home by her estranged husband, James Dorsey. Her killer would receive 19 years due to no sentencing enhancements — such as “lying in wait” — being added to his charges, and if the enhancements had been added, a possible sentence of life in prison would have been on the table.  

Additionally, as The Signal originally reported through a series of Public Records Act requests, the District Attorney’s Office under Gascón declined to prosecute approximately 62% of all cases reported by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. This is an estimated 35% increase in the rate of declined cases in comparison to the previous two district attorneys, Steve Cooley and Jackie Lacey. Subsequently, repeat offenders represent approximately one-third of all arrests made in the city.  

If passed, the motion would codify the following: “The Santa Clarita City Council affirms support for the recall of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and hereby directs staff transmit said resolution to applicable and interested offices and organizations.”   

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