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Grover H2O isn't giving up on recalling Councilmember Daniel Rushing 

From protests to lawsuits, the feud between Grover H2O and the city of Grover Beach hasn't died down.

On May 28, the San Luis Obispo Superior Court ruled that Grover Beach, City Clerk Wendi Sims, and City Attorney Robert Lomeli had unlawfully rejected Grover H2O's recall petitions against Mayor Karen Bright and City Councilmembers Daniel Rushing and Zach Zimmerman.

click to enlarge COMMUNITY AWARENESS The members of Grover H2O are informing Grover Beach residents about their option to recall Councilmember Daniel Rushing for his role in voting to raise water rates by 20 percent.  - FILE PHOTO BY SAMANTHA HERRERA
  • File Photo By Samantha Herrera
  • COMMUNITY AWARENESS The members of Grover H2O are informing Grover Beach residents about their option to recall Councilmember Daniel Rushing for his role in voting to raise water rates by 20 percent. 

"Judge [Craig] van Rooyen ruled that the city violated the law and directed the city to accept and allow circulation of the petitions, agreeing with its citizens that the elections code does not allow city elections officials to unilaterally edit citizens' reasons for recall," Grover H2O spokesperson Debbie Peterson said.

The city claimed that when Grover H2O submitted its notice of intention to circulate a recall petition on Jan. 8, there were numerous errors, including technical ones on all petitions as well as what the city determined to be false or misleading statements about Bright and Rushing, according to a statement on the city's website.

"On that basis, and in consultation with legal counsel, the city clerk rejected the petitions, requesting that changes be made to bring them in conformity with the Elections Code," the statement reads.

The city also said that it provided three rounds of feedback to Grover H2O advising the group to take out the false or misleading information, yet it didn't and served the city with a lawsuit instead, challenging what was considered false or misleading.

"The court's ruling was very narrow and indicated only that the city should have challenged the petitions in court, rather than by rejecting the petitions," the city's statement reads. "The court did not make a ruling on the substantive issues of whether the statements in the petition were false or misleading or whether the city was correct in challenging the petitions under the Elections Code."

Grover H2O formed after the City Council voted 3-2 in December 2023 to increase water rates by almost 20 percent over four years to help fund Grover Beach's portion of Central Coast Blue, according to previous New Times reporting.

Upset over the big increase, Grover H2O circulated a recall petition against Bright, Rushing, and Zimmerman for voting in favor of it.

Peterson said the city's rejection of the recall effort interfered with the group's ability to recall Bright and Zimmerman since their terms will be up in 2024.

And although the city reversed its decision to raise the rates and pulled out of Central Coast Blue, Grover H2O is still determined to put a Rushing recall effort on the November ballot.

"We are hoping to put that to the voters to decide on whether or not to recall Councilmember Rushing. We think that the people should have the opportunity to make that decision," Peterson told New Times. "So we are still working to gather those signatures."

If Grover H2O can't get the Rushing recall on the November ballot, Peterson said the group would push for a special election.

"Our goal is to avoid a special election and to get it on the ballot in November because the last time we had a special election in this county it cost $300,000 and we as an organization don't want that for our city," she said. "We don't want our city to have to spend that kind of money."

Peterson said the recall has almost 500 signatures, which the group will soon hand over to City Clerk Sims. She'll have 30 days plus holidays and weekends to count the signatures.

"We think she could probably count them faster than that because there's no requirement for her to take the full time ... just as there's no requirement for us to take the full 60 days to collect signatures," she said. Δ


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