On May 11, Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters Deva Marie Proto concluded that a recall campaign to oust District Attorney Ravitch had gathered 32,128 valid signatures, more than 2,000 signatures over the required amount.
Two weeks later, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors scheduled the recall election on Sept. 14, 2021. Proto estimates that the election will cost the county between $606,192 and $909,228 to administer.
The recall effort formally started last October. Ravitch, currently serving her third four-year term as district attorney, is not without her critics—but the recall campaign has struck some as a cynical effort to get revenge against the county’s top prosecutor.
Campaign finance forms show that Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher spent nearly $800,000 by the end of March to bankroll the effort. The campaign’s website focuses on Ravitch’s track record of largely declining to press charges against local law enforcement officers, including her decision not to prosecute the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy who fatally shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez in 2013.
It’s true that Ravitch has garnered criticism from police accountability activists for going easy on police officers, but opponents of the recall effort call into question whether Gallaher actually cares about police accountability.
Instead, they say, the recall campaign was triggered when Ravitch and state prosecutors pursued Gallaher’s retirement care company, Oakmont Senior Living, for failing to keep residents safe at two Sonoma County care homes during the 2017 wildfires. Ravitch and state prosecutors reached a $500,000 settlement with Oakmont Senior Living about two months before the recall campaign was launched.
“This is one angry person bent on revenge, and it is really unfortunate that there are nothing but lies and half-truths being told in support of this effort,” Ravitch told KRON on May 13, after the recall campaign received enough signatures.
Ravitch is not without allies in opposing the campaign. According to its website, an anti-recall campaign titled “Voters Opposed to Recalling District Attorney Jill Ravitch” has raised just over $29,000 and gathered endorsements from all five members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and most other local, state and federal representatives.
Ravitch announced last year that she will not seek another term in office, meaning that the recall campaign, if effective, will simply cut off her last term a little early. If the recall fails, there will be an election for Ravitch’s replacement next June.