Price recall campaign turned in 123,000 signatures, group says

The registrar of voters has 10 days to review the names to determine whether there are enough valid signatures from Alameda County voters.

Price recall campaign turned in 123,000 signatures, group says
From right, Brenda Grisham and Carl Chan, Price recall campaign leaders, rally supporters Monday morning, March 4, 2024. Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

The group seeking to recall DA Pamela Price submitted over 123,000 signatures to election officials Monday, "far surpassing" the number needed to get on the ballot, organizers said.

Save Alameda For Everyone, a broad coalition of families, crime victims, small business owners and residents, announced the news Monday morning on the steps of Oakland's main courthouse by Lake Merritt.

"We shouldn't have to do this," said Brenda Grisham, one of the leaders of the recall campaign. "But for the safety of our community, the safety of our children, the safety of our businesses, this is something that had to be done."

The campaign, which kicked off last August, had until Tuesday to turn in the signatures.

The Alameda County registrar of voters, who works out of the main courthouse basement, now has 10 days to validate the names.

The group needed about 73,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot. Validation is done through random sampling, the county said previously.

Recall campaign organizers said they expect to see a special election focused on the recall question in late April or early May.

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Price supporters with the Protect the Win campaign say the special election could cost $15 million to $20 million.

Protect the Win has called the recall effort "undemocratic" and said it will "jeopardize the historic progress achieved in recent years."

On Monday morning, recall organizers said they ran a grassroots campaign aided by more than 4,000 volunteers.

"This is a right for the citizens of Alameda County," Grisham said Monday. "A recall is a right that they have."

Read more about Pamela Price on The Scanner.

Grisham, who is Black, also pointed to the diverse group of people standing with her on the courthouse steps and gave a nod to her fellow campaign leader, Carl Chan, who is Chinese.

"At the beginning of this, they said we couldn't work together. They said that's not going to work," she said. "Look at all the different nationalities that have come together to make this happen."

Chan said the campaign had been motivated by Price's soft-on-crime policies and her mismanagement of the DA's office.

"She's already destroyed the integrity of the legal system," he said. "We lost so many of those experienced and good prosecutors. And there are many, many cases that are not being fairly treated."

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Dozens of prosecutors left in the months after Price was elected. Some published their resignation letters in protest over what they saw as her destruction of the office.

One person who left last year was Annie Esposito, who departed quietly in April 2023 despite having been promoted by Price as part of her leadership team.

Esposito's name has been floated as someone who may step up to try to replace Price if the recall effort is successful.

Esposito, former chief deputy assistant district attorney for Alameda County, attended Monday morning's press event.

She did not make public remarks, but the recall campaign did include a comment from her in a prepared statement Monday.

"Pamela Price has gutted the District Attorney’s Office of experienced, competent prosecutors," she said. "She has replaced dedicated prosecutors with years of experience with unqualified and often incompetent individuals who have never fought for victims or prosecuted a criminal case."

A growing number of victim families have spoken out against Price over the past year, saying they are unhappy with their case outcomes as well as their treatment by the DA's office since she took over.

Many families, including Patricia Harris and James Purvis — whose son Jarin was killed in 2020 attended Monday morning's press event.

"We came to get Pamela Price recalled because she's not fair to the victims," Harris said. "We're here to do everything we can to get her out of office."

Virginia Nishita, whose husband Kevin was killed while protecting a TV crew in 2021, has been a vocal recall proponent from the beginning.

"Today I'm standing here for Kevin Nishita and all the victims of Alameda County," she said Monday. "Kevin believed in justice and spent his career serving and protecting the people. Well, today, today, the people speak loud and clear and they want a district attorney, not a public defender."

Price supporters say she has been unfairly blamed for things beyond her control and that she should be allowed to carry out the will of the voters who elected her, particularly as Alameda County's first Black female district attorney.

Protect the Win did not respond to requests for comment from The Scanner. But, in a statement posted Sunday on X, the group strongly defended Price.

"DA Price is the first non-anointed and non-appointed District Attorney in 100 years," the campaign wrote. "Her election marks a departure from the old ways and symbolizes a century-long struggle for genuine electoral representation."

Questions linger over next steps in Pamela Price recall effort

On Tuesday, Alameda County voters are set to decide on a charter amendment that would replace local recall procedures with state law.

How or if that will affect the Price recall effort remains an open question because it's unclear who will determine whether the change, if approved, could or would be retroactive.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis has previously said he cannot comply with the existing 10-day timeline for validating signatures.

That's one reason the Board of Supervisors said it decided to put the charter amendment on the March 5 ballot.

The Scanner will continue to cover the story.

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