May 30, 2024
Carl Chan, president of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said the group hopes to begin collecting signatures across the county in early September.

OAKLAND — A group calling itself “Save Alameda for Everyone: Recall Pamela Price” moved a step closer to beginning a county-wide, signature-gathering effort aimed at unseating the county’s top prosecutor.

The committee, which goes by the acronym SAFE, filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition with the county’s registrar of voters on Tuesday, according to Carl Chan, a recall leader and the government affairs chair of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

The procedural move — which included the filing of 127 signatures, more than the 100 that Chan said was required for this step of the process — signaled that the group could be just weeks away from kicking off its broader, county-wide signature gathering process. Chan said he hoped to begin collecting those signatures in early September.

“Many people don’t feel safe,” said Chan, in a press conference outside of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in downtown Oakland. “We are not doing it just for victims’ families — we are doing it for everyone in Alameda County. We are recalling because people have to be accountable for their jobs.”

The group’s notice on Tuesday framed the effort as a “broad coalition of Alameda County residents, business owners, victims, victims’ families and concerned citizens.” It alleged that Price was “failing” voters in her job of prosecuting people and keeping residents safe.

“We are unified in our belief that recalling Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is not only necessary, but critical to keeping our community safe and restoring public safety in our neighborhoods,” the group’s formal notice said.

Price will be given an opportunity to respond in writing to the group’s filing. Only after county election officials receive that response — and approve other minor bureacratic steps — can the group begin collecting signatures across Alameda County seeking to put the recall question to voters.

A call to a spokesperson for Price’s campaign was not immediately returned.

The recall group’s treasurer and assistant treasurer are listed as two political law attorneys with a Los Angeles-based firm. Its principal officer, Brenda Grisham, is an East Bay resident who became prominent in local politics after her son was gunned down in Oakland in 2010.

While Alameda County’s elections office has not yet determined how many signatures a Price recall would require, recent rules on California’s recall elections say signatures from 10 percent of a county’s registered voter base is needed, which in Alameda County would be roughly 93,000. But because of possible duplicates and invalid signatures, the safer number needed to qualify is much higher, as much as 140,000, experts say.

Price won her election as the county’s first Black district attorney handily in November 2022, beating longtime prosecutor Terry Wiley in an effort to replace outgoing Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley by flipping precincts that previously went to O’Malley and dominating in Oakland and Berkeley.

Price’s platform includes a moratorium on filings that would send murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole or impose the death penalty, a halt to virtually all cases where juveniles are charged in adult court, instructions to prosecutors to seek probation over jail or prison time in many cases, and a general emphasis on alternatives to incarceration. Price has also advocated against the use of “gang enhancement” charges, arguing they are disproportionally used against non-white people.

Her justice reform efforts have been met with resistance. Dozens of prosecutors from her office have quit or been placed on leave, some writing and leaking resignations letters that offered pointed criticisms of Price, who brushed off concerns over office turnover in an interview.

“I want to hire prosecutors who want to save lives and not destroy them,” she said. “That’s the theme of what we’re looking for.”

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