The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

San Mateans drive the recall effort for the mayor

Emma Goldman
San Mateo City Hall, which remains the workplace for Mayor Lee despite controversies and recall efforts.

San Mateo residents are calling for the recall of Mayor Amourence Lee. 

Lee has only been in office for a couple of months, yet her candidacy has stirred up tensions in the community.

Beginning in December when she was first appointed as mayor, the process was slowed by two other city council members, resulting in San Mateo not having a mayor for a week, according to ABC7 News

Now Lee is facing more disruptions as a group called “Recall San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee” spearheads her political effort with a petition.

According to Lisa Taner, a San Mateo resident and member of the recall group, the petition requires 8,650 signatures to trigger a recall. 

Lee has served as a council member since 2019, and the group’s website states their recall campaign is based on “a pattern of over two years of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of a councilmember, and failing to represent her constituents.” Their petition and campaign have the support of five former San Mateo mayors: Claire Mack, Jerry Hill, Carole Groom, Eric Rodriguez, and Maureen Freschet. 

One of the main points of the recall group’s campaign is based on vote trading allegations from early December 2022.

A city council member approached Lee on the afternoon of Dec. 7 about possibly trading votes in an upcoming meeting. According to the recall group’s website, she did not inform the City Attorney until that evening and at the same time as the public. The group believes her lack of quick action shows a dereliction of duty.

These allegations are currently being investigated by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

“We are conducting an investigation into the allegation that two people reached out to Amourence Lee and possibly offered to exchange votes for the December city council meeting. I should clarify that there is no allegation that Mayor Lee engaged in any conduct that violates the law,” Wagstaffe said in an email statement.

The group’s website also mentions Lee’s smear campaign of Rob Linhares, a District 5 City Council candidate. According to the recall group, Lee helped create ProChoice SMC specifically to target Rob Linhares.

Linhares’ name is mentioned once on the website, in a list of 206 San Mateo County political candidates that were asked about their position on abortion-related topics. Linhares is one of 133 candidates listed as having “no response.”

Lee herself is running a “Stop the Recall” campaign on her website, where she writes that the special election would cost the city an estimated $1M. However, this number is expected to be closer to $750,000 according to San Mateo County election officials in an article by the Mercury News. 

Her website also states that the recall group is conservative and anti-abortion. However, according to some involved in the recall group, these claims generalize the group and don’t wholly represent their ideas. 

“I personally am not conservative or anti-abortion,” Taner said. She added that she believes Lee claims this to turn people away from the recall effort. 

San Mateans have also created Stand with Amo, a website denouncing the recall efforts, calling those in support of it “insurrectionists” that would “send [San Mateo] backwards.”

The recall group wields a loud voice and community reach, but most recalls are unsuccessful. Since 1913, California citizens have attempted 179 recalls of state-elected officials. 11 of those qualified for the ballot, and 6 of those succeeded in removing the sitting official.

Another failed attempt at a recall was added to the list in 2021 with Gov. Gavin Newsom. According to NPR, Newsom won the election with 61.9% of people voting to keep him in office.

Similar to Newsom, Lee has many supporters during the recall from local politicians, including San Mateo County Supervisor Noelia Corzo, to various organizations, like the Jewish Democratic Club of Silicon Valley.  

Should the petition reach its necessary signatures, it will put Lee on the election ballot for a special election in November 2023, which would precede a regularly scheduled election in November 2024.

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About the Contributors
Audrey Finigan
Audrey Finigan, Scot Scoop Editor
Audrey Finigan is currently a junior in the Carlmont Journalism program. Her favorite part of journalism is being able to interview different types of people and hear their stories. She plays water polo on the girls varsity team.
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman, Scot Scoop Editor
Emma Goldman is a junior at Carlmont and this is her second year in the journalism program. She enjoys staying informed about the world around her, both by staying up-to-date with the news and interacting with people in the community. In her free time, she enjoys running for the school's cross country and track teams, as well as trying new foods and cooking.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
San Mateans drive the recall effort for the mayor