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Second Recall Effort Fails
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City councilmember Jesse James White has again avoided a recall election.

Riverbank Citizens For Fair Change for the second year in a row failed to gather enough signatures on the petition seeking to recall the young, embattled councilman.

Their second attempt at a recall came to an end on Sept. 28 when they needed to present at least 2,185 signatures to City Hall but came through with only 2,156. Of that number, city officials disqualified 73.

Some signers were disqualified for failure to include a printed name and full address, city officials said.

Even if the recall organizers had found the required 2,185 qualified signatures, the names would still have needed verification by the county elections office that they represented registered voters. Only then could the actual recall have gone on the March ballot.

White greeted the news with enthusiasm, pointing out he had twice survived a recall effort.

Recall organizer Dotty Nygard noted the large number of signatures collected clearly indicated the community no longer wanted White to represent them.

One positive outcome, she added, was petition carriers going door to door had registered more than 600 new voters to cast their ballot in future elections.

White, now 21, was elected to office in November of 2008 and from the start has irritated some council members, city staff and community members by blocking most votes that involve higher fees such as raising the sewer system rates for needed repairs.

He has faced charges of illegal election tactics. Shortly after his election the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury recommended he resign because he was not registered to vote at the time he applied to run for council. He denied it and refused this and other public calls for resignation from the community.

He has been arrested on drug charges, a sheriff's deputies arrested him last May saying they found small amounts of cocaine and marijuana in his apartment and vehicle during a probation search. He was on probation after pleading no contest to a driving under the influence charge in 2007. The pre-trial hearing is set for December.

He has also exasperated fellow council members by missing meetings.

Three times in August, the council had to cancel special meetings set to discuss filling a council seat by appointment. Now, the city must hold a special election in March estimated to cost $35,000 or more. Two posts, that of White's ailing grandfather, Dave White, and that of vice mayor Sandra Benitez, will be up for election in November. Neither is running again, but nine candidates are vying for the two available seats.