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Elected, Recalled, Elected, Recalled, Elected Again? Don Bankhead Pulls Papers for Fullerton City Council

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 19, 2012

Don Bankhead

Confirming rumors that have been swirling around Fullerton, recalled City Councilman Don Bankhead pulled papers to run for the council in November.

Bankhead is only the second person in U.S. history to have been recalled twice from the same office, and he’s the only person west of the Appalachian Mountains to have achieved this ignominious distinction.

First elected to the Fullerton City Council in 1988, Bankhead ran unsuccessfully for Orange County Sheriff in 1990, was re-elected to the council in 1992, was recalled in June 1994, was elected to the council in November 1994, was re-elected in 1998, ran unsuccessfully for Assembly in 2000, was re-elected to the council in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and then recalled in June 2012.

In other words, Bankhead was on the Council from 1988 until being recalled in June 1994, returned to the Council in November 1994, staying until being recalled in June 2012, and he now seeks to return to the Council in November 2012.

Bankhead wants his council career to be 1988-1994, 1994-2012, 2012-some abstract time in the future.

So far, Barry Levinson, Vivian “Kitty” Jaramillo, Matthew Hakim, Bruce Whitaker, Jane Rands, Bankhead, Travis Kiger, and Jennifer Fitzgerald have pulled papers (in that order).  Whitaker and Kiger are the two incumbents.  Whitaker was elected in the November 2010 general election to fill a two-year seat left vacant when Councilman Shawn Nelson was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, while Kiger was elected in the recall last month. Levinson, Hakim, and Rands all lost bids for council seats in the recall. Jaramillo ran in 2006.  Fitzgerald has not run for the council before.

Can Bankhead win again?  It usually takes about 20% of the vote to win a Fullerton Council seat in a November general election.  In June, 34% of the vote was against the recall.  How much of the anti-recall vote was just a general opposition to recall as opposed to votes in support of Bankhead (considering the three recalls had nearly identical votes)?  How much of that percentage will translate into the general election considering that turnout in November elections is higher than in June elections?  Will a large field of candidates work in Bankhead’s favor, splitting the anti-Bankhead vote?  Only time will tell, but clearly, things are still going to be interesting in the City of Fullerton.

(Now, roll my standard Fullerton disclaimer: 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 that removed Bankhead.  One of my co-workers in the office is Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, who was elected in 2010 and was not a target of the 2012 recall that removed Bankhead, but he was one of the organizers of the 1994 recall.)

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