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Supporters of Alameda County DA Pamela Price recall renew push for special election

Supporters of the effort to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price are taking every opportunity to pressure the county Board of Supervisors to call a special election as soon as possible. 

The group Save Alameda For Everyone held its second rally and press conference in as many weeks Tuesday to remind supervisors and the county's top election official, Tim Dupuis, of what they believe their legal responsibilities are.

SAFE members alleged that the supervisors already violated county election rules when they declined to set an election date at their April 16 meeting following Dupuis' determination that recall supporters had collected enough valid signatures to put the issue before voters. 

"So the board actually failed in their responsibility to set an election date, a special election date, and it should have been within 35 to 40 days," said SAFE campaign manager Chris Moore.

Now SAFE says that if the board fails to set a special election date of sometime between late July and early September at its April 30 meeting, they will be in violation of state rules. 

If the board again fails to set an election date at that meeting, SAFE supporters say state law gives Dupuis five days to schedule a special election.   

Complicating matters is the fact that in the March 5 election, Alameda County voters approved Measure B, a countywide charter amendment that changes recall rules to align with state law. 

But it's unclear which rules apply here -- the old county rules or state rules -- since the petition gathering for the recall started before voters passed Measure B. 

"All of this is unprecedented," board president Nate Miley said last week. "We've never had to go through this before, and quite frankly, the Board of Supervisors, we will be having county counsel brief us in closed session on their interpretation of the legality and what we should do."

"There's so many different complications around this," Miley said. "I think there's going to be litigation. Whatever the board does, we'll be sued -- either the proponents will sue or the opponents will sue."

SAFE supporters are eager to get the recall on a special election ballot and not have it placed on the already scheduled November general election ballot.

They accuse Price, who was elected on a platform of criminal justice reform, of being soft on crime and say that keeping her in office longer than necessary will have a negative impact on crime rates.

"There is not a timeline on life and waiting until November is not an option," SAFE organizer Brenda Grisham said Tuesday. "We need her to go right now."

Attending the rally in front of the county administration building Tuesday were a handful of counter-protesting Price supporters who said it's silly to spend millions of dollars on a special election given existing budget problems and that the recall is a "right-wing power grab." 

Price supporter Jennifer Zilliac said special elections tend to be characterized by low voter turnout, which would likely favor an anti-Price vote. 

"You end up getting fewer people to the polls and that favors their case," Zilliac said.

Whatever the Board of Supervisors decides to do next, the likelihood of additional legal and political complications is high.

"Stay tuned, this is an ongoing drama that is being played out and we'll see where it takes us," Miley said last week. 

Dupuis and Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Price has remained in the spotlight over the last week for other reasons. On Friday, she announced that her office would file charges against the three Alameda police officers involved in the 2021 in-custody death of Mario Gonzalez.

On Monday, she disclosed evidence of prosecutorial misconduct spanning over three decades discriminating against Black and Jewish jurors that led a judge to order a review of all death penalty cases in the county dating back to the 1990s

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