Critics of OID’s Santos submit recall petitions

Petitions asking for the recall of Oakdale Irrigation District board member Linda Santos were filed Thursday with the Stanislaus County clerk-recorder’s office.

Knowing that a recall election requires petitions signed by 421 registered voters in Santos’ District 4 southeast of Oakdale, her critics turned in 660 signatures, said Deanne Dalrymple, a leader of the recall effort.

But election officials are swamped counting about 70,000 provisional ballots remaining from Tuesday’s presidential election and have no time for the OID matter, county Clerk-Recorder Lee Lundrigan said. Her office is closed Friday for Veterans Day and verifying OID signatures won’t begin until next week at the earliest, she said.

“We are literally overrun with (uncounted) ballots, and that’s our focus,” Lundrigan said.

State law gives Lundrigan’s people until Dec. 28 to certify OID signatures. If enough are valid, OID would have two weeks to schedule a special recall election; the only board meeting date expected in that time frame is Jan. 3. Assuming that occurs, May 2 would be an acceptable date for the recall vote, Lundrigan said.

Most petition passing in recent weeks represented a grass-roots effort, Dalrymple said, although some came from a professional agency paid to gather signatures.

We need good representation, and that’s what we we feel we don’t have.

Deanne Dalrymple, recall leader

“A majority who signed mine (petitions) actually voted for Linda” in the November 2015 election, Dalrymple said. “They were disappointed with decisions that had been made (since).”

Recall proponents accused Santos of favoring “friends, campaign contributors and special interests” and “put(ting) petty politics over her constituents.” She said the drive is founded on “outright lies, malicious rumors and unfounded accusations.”

Don’t be fooled by their lies. Don’t sign anything until you get all the facts.

Linda Santos’ postcard to OID customers

Santos and Gail Altieri, both elected a year ago over longtime incumbents, often find themselves on the short end of 2-3 split votes at meetings of the deeply divided OID board.

Santos has said she is being targeted because she’s outspoken and because critics would have had to gather 1,231 signatures to recall Altieri. That’s because Altieri’s Division 1 northeast of town has grown much faster than others in recent years and the previous board did not adjust boundaries.

421Division 4 signatures needed to prompt an election to recall Linda Santos

660Signatures turned in Thursday, to be verified by election officials

1,231Division 1 signatures needed if detractors had targeted Gail Altieri

Previous board members knew that state law required resizing of OID’s voting districts after the 2010 U.S. census but failed to take action until The Modesto Bee uncovered the foot-dragging in June 2015. Then-board members subsequently hired a firm to start the process, but no change has been proposed despite Altieri’s frequent requests for status reports.

Santos’ detractors also accused her of “aiding and abetting OID’s opponents in a lawsuit,” and the board majority sued her and Altieri to keep them out of closed-door strategy sessions. A judge four weeks ago ruled that the women have the right to attend and participate; later, the board majority – Steve Webb, Herman Doornenbal and Gary Osmundson – opted not to drop the lawsuit and have not announced their next move.

Dalrymple said, “I encourage people to go to (board) meetings and be informed, and no matter what side of the issues they’re on, to keep things civil. We’ve had enough discord with the (presidential) elections that just got completed; we don’t need that to continue with this. We all want the same thing: to keep OID strong.”

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390