CARSON, Calif.—More than 12,000 signatures were submitted to City Hall to recall current City Clerk and former Mayor Jim Dear of Carson. Dear recently gained notoriety and attention among Greek, Armenian and Assyrian communities for proposing that Carson build a statue commemorating the Turkish dictator and founder of modern Turkish State, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The proposed statue was going to be placed in Carson’s International Sculpture Garden. The idea was brought forth by then-Mayor Jim Dear and according to the monument’s website “the Ataturk Monument in LA (ATAMLA) team worked for 2.5 years closely with the City of Carson to select a location, to design the monument, and move through the city master planning process, building and safety departments to receive approvals from all staff.”
According to the website of the sponsors of the monument, Dear was part of the committee and helped shepherd the project forward until news of it reached Armenian and Greek-American individuals and organizations. At the March 3, 2015 City Council meeting, hundreds of concerned citizens filled the council chambers to protest the proposed statue-monument. Numerous groups and individuals appeared before the council including Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian, Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and Montebello City Councilman Jack Hadjinian. A number of Turkish residents and activists spoke as well including the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Los Angeles. The council voted 4-0 to suspend action on building of the monument.
Dear ran for City Clerk soon after the Ataturk statue controversy in an attempt to oust sitting City Clerk Donesia Gause – a professional City Clerk who was appointed to the post and had worked in the City Clerk’s office in the city of Long Beach. Dear who was first elected to the City Council in Carson in 2001 ran an aggressive campaign and claimed that his goal was to bring reforms to the City Clerk’s offices. According to the Daily Breeze, Dear “has been at the center of allegations regarding election fraud and repeated violations of his duties, as well as an investigation into employee claims of harassment and discrimination at his hands.”
To recall Dear, 8000 valid signatures needed to be submitted. The 12,000 collected exceeded that number. Dear submitted 1600 withdrawal cards from supporters he claimed signed the recall petition but later wished to have their names removed. Regardless, the overall signatures calling for the recall far exceed the 5171 votes Dear received in the 2015 election that saw him oust the incumbent City Clerk. His overall percentage of votes received for the seat was 52.6 percent.
An election will now be set to hold a recall and to select a replacement should the recall prevail. The race will draw a lot of attention from everyone in LA County particularly the Armenian and Greek communities who were affected by Dear’s last act as Mayor. Even though he joined his four colleagues to vote down the Ataturk monument, many still feel his stewardship is what opened the door for the attempt to build the statue in the first place.
The Carson City Clerk recall election is scheduled to take place on February 23, 2016. For more information on the recall, visit RecallDear.com.