The phantom recall: Who’s behind the push for removing Sacramento Councilmember Katie Valenzuela from office?
It’s been 17 months since Katie Valenzuela shocked Sacramento’s political establishment by ousting an influential, well-financed incumbent on the City Council.
Evidently, some in Sacramento’s political establishment aren’t over it.
Despite having less than a year on the actual job, Valenzuela could soon be facing a recall effort. For now, the players behind this political phantom menace remain a mystery, though fans of the Central City representative worry that it’s a cynical attempt to ride a broader wave of recalls targeting progressives across California.
“Given what’s happening around the state, we’ve decided we need to take this seriously,” Valenzuela told SN&R. “There’s a lot we still don’t know, but it’s better to be ready.”
News that Valenzuela, who unseated District 4 Councilman Steve Hansen, might already have a shadow recall campaign working against her emerged only recently. It took many supporters off-guard, as Valenzuela has not had the same kind of political dust-ups and embarrassments that have plagued some leaders who have faced – or currently face – recall. There have been no headlines about Valenzuela caught ignoring the very COVID mitigation measures she urged other people to follow, unlike Gov. Gavin Newsom and at least nine other Democratic leaders from San Francisco to Santa Monica. She has also had any alleged racist tweets resurface after building her platform on social equity, like San Francisco School Board member Alison Collins, who is now facing recall.
So, if the kind of perceptions of hypocrisy fueling some California recalls aren’t inspiring the possible one against Valenzuela, what is? Based on the secretly operated push-poll that was aimed at her, the motivation might be the exact opposite – that she’s too genuine about her beliefs. The poll, which was conducted through phone calls and mailers, brought up local news stories and editorials about two staffers who Valenzuela hired for her City Hall team. One, long-time housing advocate Michelle Pariset, was criticized by management in 2019 for what she described as a personal conviction that she couldn’t legally withdraw Sacramento’s proposed charter amendment for strong rent control simply because the Council passed lesser policies,