City Council votes to support 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
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For the first time in the city’s history, the Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution supporting the recall of an L.A. County elected official.  

The name written on the resolution: District Attorney George Gascón.  

The vote came after nearly a year and a half of the City Council voicing displeasure with Gascón over various policies he implemented upon entering office in December 2020, including his elimination of sentencing enhancements, the cash bail system for a number of misdemeanors and the mitigation of penalties for a number of non-violent crimes.   

“The D.A.’s policies have done nothing but perpetuate an environment of lawlessness, and injustice,” said Mayor Laurene Weste during the meeting. “Supporting a recall effort is not something that I take lightly. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that the city has ever supported a recall previously.”  

“However, the policies issued by this district attorney severely risk public wellbeing and blatantly ignore the rights of victims,” Weste added. “So, therefore, it is necessary that we stand for what is right, uphold the oath that we have made when we were sworn into office and protect our communities.” 

Councilwoman Marsha McLean said that she carried petitions with her wherever she goes.  

City Attorney Joseph Montes said members of the council were free to pass resolutions and act in support of campaigns on their own personal behalf.  

“The city cannot spend public money to gather signatures,” Montes said. “That would be campaign activity.” 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, four speakers took to the podium to discuss the item, and all four speakers were in support of passing the recall resolution.    

In the motion passed by the council, city staff cited 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 motion highlighted that 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.   

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

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