Efforts to recall current Irvine Mayor Christina Shea and City Councilmember Mike Carroll are officially underway in response to the delayed construction of the proposed veteran’s cemetery.
The petition, which was approved in November and began collecting signatures in January, contends that Shea and Carroll have actively stalled the development of the long-awaited Irvine veteran’s cemetery due to their relationship with housing developer FivePoint Holdings.
“They are not acting in the interests of residents and voters in getting the veteran’s cemetery to happen,” professor at UCI and former City Council candidate Kev Abazajian said to the Los Angeles Times.
The recall petition also claims that Shea and Carroll, who assumed their positions following former Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner’s resignation and move to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, were appointed through a “backroom political deal” that resulted in Shea becoming “the first unelected mayor in the last 30 years.”
Mayor Shea refutes this accusation, arguing that her appointment to her position as Mayor is a legal process that is part of the Irvine charter.
“[The appointment process] is a legal tool that we use instead of having to spend millions of dollars on an election,” Shea said in a phone interview with the reporter.
Mayor Shea further stated that the petition is a frivolous “political statement” that would be a waste of money and time, since both Shea and Carroll are up for reelection during the 2020 election cycle.
“Recall is a tool for the public, obviously, to be able to recall an elected official,” Mayor Shea said to the reporter, “But usually that tool is supposed to be implemented when it comes to pretty egregious things, like fraud or drugs. Not because I was appointed.”
She continued, saying, “If the voters don’t want me in office, I will be the first to step down.”
In the official petition document, Carroll wrote in rebuttal of the recall, “The last thing Irvine needs is another wasteful election, supported by those who demonize Irvine’s residents and attack Irvine’s values.”
The cemetery’s location has also been a controversial topic within Irvine over the last several years.
Introduced in 2014, the location originally proposed by city officials was the site of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, a decommissioned Marine Corps base near Irvine. However, in 2017, an alternative location was offered up, backed by FivePoint who offered a land swap deal. The new location was the site of a proposed golf course right next to the Orange County Great Park. This trade was offered to voters the next year and was voted down.
In July 2019, the City Council overrode this decision by voters, moving to approve the Golf Course location. FivePoint pledged $28 million towards the project.
“The corruption and influence of this developer has put people in place that do not represent Irvine’s values,” Abazajian said to the Voice of OC. “People are coming to see that our city officials are not representative of that and that needs to be changed.”
In order to move for a recall election, petitioners will need to accumulate signatures from 10% of the Irvine registered voters by June 4.
Abazajian and Councilmember Carroll could not be reached for further comment.
Danielle Dawson is a City News staff writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.