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Supporters of Alameda County DA Pamela Price recall want special election to decide her fate

Pamela Price recall supporters collect enough signatures, call for special election
Pamela Price recall supporters collect enough signatures, call for special election 03:50

Supporters of a campaign to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price are urging the county Board of Supervisors to set a special election as soon as possible.

On Monday evening, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis announced that recall supporters gathered enough signatures to put the recall on a ballot. The effort required 73,195 valid signatures and organizers were able to collect 74,757.

Save Alameda for Everyone, or SAFE, collected those signatures.

"One over what we needed, that would have been just fine," Brenda Grisham, a principal officer with SAFE, said. "As long as we got it on the ballot."

During comments before the board Tuesday and at a press conference afterward, representatives of SAFE said they don't want the recall election to coincide with the November general election.

"We want to make sure that there will be a special election," said SAFE spokesperson Carl Chan.

SAFE supporters said the county has told them that a special election will cost between $15 million and $20 million, but say that putting the recall on the November ballot would allow Price to stay in office for too long, assuming she loses the election. 

"What's going on in the District Attorney's Office is directly affecting crime because they're not prosecuting to the full extent of the law," said SAFE organizer Brenda Grisham.

Citywide crime data for Oakland says overall crime is down this year, but violent crimes are up 10 percent.

It's a statistic Virginia Nishita is all too familiar with.

"It's awful. It's absolutely awful." Nishita said. "Because I can't grieve."

It's been two and a half years since Nishita's husband, Kevin, was shot in killed in downtown Oakland. Since that day, Nishita has continued to fight for justice, instead of processing her husband's death.

"It's delayed because I'm in court reminded every single month," Nishita said, regarding her grief. "It's a reminder to me of what happened. And how they speak of it. How the defense attorney speaks of the crime. It's as if he deserved to be shot. And that's what I'm really upset about."

Nishita said, with Price as the DA, she worries the men responsible for her husbands death may not serve the time she believes they deserve.

Election code says the Board of Supervisors needs to accept the receipt of the verified signatures and schedule an election within 14 days of receiving the certificate of sufficiency.

It also says that the special election would have to happen no more than 125 days from when the recall is ordered, putting it on the November ballot would be too late.

However, Pamela Price's lawyer, Jim Sutton, said in a statement that they believe the recall may be illegal and they plan to fight it. They said the law requires the signatures must be counted in 10 days; it took more than a month. They also allege that signatures were collected by non-alameda county residents.

In addition, Price's office said a recall election is a poor use of possibly $20 million.

"You need to find that money," Grisham said, directed at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. "You had since last year when you stated that it was going to cost that amount of money to have it readily available as well as the resources to make it happen."

The supervisors could vote on an election date as early as their April 30 meeting.

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