The voters will decide if Fire District 16 Commissioner Allen Yanity should be removed or stay in office. This was the decision of Pierce County Superior Court Judge Armijo on Oct. 19.
Fellow Commissioner Jim Bosch filed a recall petition with the Pierce County Auditor on Sept. 28, citing Yanity’s alleged physical assault upon Bosch at an earlier commissioner’s meeting as grounds to bring a recall vote to the voters. The prosecutor’s office agreed that the petition met the minimum standards for a recall petition and forwarded it to the judge for hearing to determine if the recall would continue to be processed.
Yanity appeared in person at the hearing without an attorney, and without having filed any written response to the recall petition. Armijo stated at the hearing, “I am not required to determine guilt or innocence. The electorate will determine truth or falsity at the election. The recall will go forward.”
On the day before the hearing, Yanity said in an interview, “I would actually welcome a recall vote. The truth will come out. I will prevail.” After the hearing decision was announced, when asked if he would appeal the decision, Yanity said, “I haven’t made that decision yet.”
The next step in the recall process is the gathering of signatures from registered voters. State law allows six months to gather signatures “equal to 35 percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office to which the officer whose recall is demanded was elected at the preceding election.” This exact number has not yet been determined.
Bosch said, “I won’t be gathering signatures myself; a committee will form and accomplish that task. Potential committee members have been identified. They expect to start collecting signatures in about 30 days. Over 2,000 signatures will be needed to provide a safety margin for potential invalid signatures.”
The Auditor’s Office reports there are 9,302 current registered voters within FD- 16. This number includes absentee voters who live outside the district.
Mike Salatino, who heads a committee working to recall both Yanity and Bosch, said, “They both have to go. We can’t put up with their antics any longer. This committee is being careful in gathering evidence to ensure that both Yanity and Bosch are recalled from office. We’ve documented a number of very serious discrepancies and instances of wrongdoing and conflicts of interest. We expect to file recall petitions in a couple of months.”
With the time needed to gather signatures and prepare the matter for ballot after signatures are verified, the voters might expect to see the recall on the ballot as early as the August 2008 primary election.
When asked for his response to a possible recall petition to be filed by Salatino, Bosch said, “If they come up with something concrete that I willfully did wrong, then I will seriously consider resigning instead of facing a recall. If I don’t belong in office, I’ll be the first one to remove myself.”
Yanity is also facing a criminal charge of felony assault against Bosch, with a jury trial set for Nov. 13. If he is convicted of a felony, he would automatically be ineligible for office, and the position would be declared vacant. It remains to be seen if an appeal of a felony conviction would allow Yanity to stay in office pending the outcome of the appeal.
If Yanity is found not guilty in the criminal trial, or if he is found guilty of a misdemeanor instead of a felony, he would still face the recall that Armijo authorized. In a recall election, the voters, through the ballot box, act as the judge and jury to determine guilt (recall) or innocence (stay in office). The evidence is usually presented to the voters through the media.