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Bell Gardens Mayor and Three Councilmembers Served Recall Papers

September 18, 2023

By Brian Hews

Bell Gardens Mayor Francis De Leon Sanchez and Councilmembers Marco Barcena, Gabriela Gomez and Maria Pulido were served with intent to recall papers during last Monday night’s Bell Gardens City Council meeting from a group of community residents who claim that the elected officials “have placed personal interest above the interest of the community and having enriched yourself, and your acquaintances, through the approval of various projects.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jorgel Chavez was not served with recall papers.

The recall was initiated by over 200 Bell Gardens residents who are angry that the city council passed an ordinance to allow cannabis dispensaries in the city.

In June of this year, the Bell Gardens City Council began discussing whether the city should allow cannabis. The city went through the standard reading and public comment and recently passed the ordinance.

“They’re going to destroy us with this. They’re going to destroy the children we have here” said resident Nabor Rios.

The Notice of Intent to Recall starts a complicated process that must comply with California law; if a notice of intention is deficient, the proponents must prepare a new notice of intention, including collecting signatures.

One Notice must be filed for each elected official to be recalled and contain the elected official’s name, a 200-word or less statement outlining the reasons for the recall, and the names and addresses of each proponent of the recall. For a city the size of Bell Gardens, the Notice required 30 signatures, which the proponents successfully collected.

The proponents then need to collect 25% of the registered voters in the city, approximately 3,200, and submit for verification. If the signatures are approved, a recall election will be scheduled.

“You have placed personal interest above the interest of the community and have enriched yourself and your acquaintances through the approval of various projects brought forth to the council pertaining to real estate, developments, and Public Safety,” the proponents wrote in the Notice.

“You have failed to keep campaign promises to protect Bell Gardens from the proliferation of cannabis business and the health and safety concerns such businesses will bring to the community. You have also failed to carry out the duties and responsibilities set forth by the office you entered into. More importantly, you have ignored the quality of life issues brought forth to you by the community. You have taken advantage of taxpayer money by irresponsibly traveling and attending junkets that further your own personal goals and interest and not the welfare of the residence.”

“More than 200 people spoke with them, but the council didn’t listen because their economic needs matter more,” resident Jennifer Rodríguez said. “They’ve shown us that they’ve sold out to the marijuana industry.”

Bell Gardens Mayor Francis de León and City Manager Michael O’Kelly stated, “The city has not received applications for marijuana vending at this time. The City Council considered and approved a process to sell cannabis products to increase revenue for community programs that will directly benefit the residents of Bell Gardens.”

City Council representatives pointed out that cities with similar ordinances have received annual tax revenues of up to $3 million. Additionally, they said the ordinances help decrease illegal cannabis operations.

Four recall petitions below:

  • Carrots says:

    lets write about Archuleta losing for congress

  • arthur says:

    The story itself should be objective. Brian doesn’t do that. His stories are just full of innuendos. If he likes you, fine. But when he goes after you, he will use innuendos, he will falsify, exaggerate, you name it. He does it without substantiation. That, to me, is not reporting