Only Two Men Recalled Two Times
Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 8, 2012
For Bankhead, however, this was not his first recall. First elected to the Fullerton City Council in 1988, Bankhead was recalled in June 1994 over a utility tax and vacated his seat upon the election of his successor in October of that year (back then, recall elections and replacement elections were held on separate dates, as opposed to today’s model where the recall replacement candidates appear on the same ballot as the recall itself).
Then, Bankhead won election to the Council for a new term in November 1994, just five months after he was initially recalled and just weeks after he vacated office.
So Bankhead’s city council career is 1988-1994 (recalled) and 1994-2012 (recalled).
Many have wondered if Bankhead’s the first politician ever recalled twice from office.
As it turns out, Bankhead is only the second elected official in American history to be recalled twice, and he only missed being first by two years.
The first elected official in American history to be recalled twice is former Mayor James W. Holley III of Portsmouth, Virginia. (Portsmouth has a population of 95,000 and is in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area adjacent to Norfolk Naval Shipyard.)
Holley was first elected to the Portsmouth City Council in 1968, serving until 1984 when he was elected Mayor (they have a directly-elected mayor, like Anaheim, Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Santa Ana, and Westminster, but unlike Fullerton, which has the mayor’s post rotate among the councilmembers).
Holley was Mayor from 1984 until he was recalled in 1987 due to his involvement in an expense account scandal and his bizarre involvement in sending obscenity-filled hate mail to other Portsmouth leaders.
In 2008, Portsmouth voters returned Holley to the Mayor’s post, but a recall petition was launched in 2009 due to allegations from his mayoral assistant that Holley used her to run personal errands on city time, including shopping for his family and cancelling his subscription to Playboy.
Funded largely by Portsmouth resident Robert Marcus, the recall appeared on the July 2010 ballot, when voters removed Holley by a 2-1 margin.
Wisconsin State Senator Jim Holperin appears to be the sole member of a club that Holley and Bankhead would much rather have joined. Holperin was subjected to recall elections twice but managed to defeat the recalls both times, once in 1990 and once in 2011.
The exclusive double recall club now consists of Portsmouth Mayor James W. Holley III and Fullerton Councilman James D. “Don” Bankhead.
(Here’s my standard Fullerton recall disclosure [although it's much less relevant now that the Fullerton recall election is over]: In the interest of full disclosure, I should note my day job is working in the Fullerton office of Assemblyman Chris Norby, who served on the Fullerton City Council from 1984-2002, but he was not a target of the 1994 recall. One of my co-workers in the office is Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, who was elected in 2010 and is not a target of the 2012 recall, but he was one of the organizers of the 1994 recall.)