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Fullerton voters recall 3 city councilmen

June 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
On the day of the California primary, people in the city of Fullerton voted in a local election to determine if three city council members should be recalled following the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man. The recall campaign appeared to have been successful.

About two-thirds of voters supported the effort to oust Councilmen Don Bankhead, Pat McKinley and Frederick Richard Jones.

Early results showed McKinley will be replaced by Doug Chaffee, Jones will be replaced by Travis Kiger, and Bankhead's seat will go to Greg Sebourn.

Supporters gathered more than 10,000 signatures to put the recall on the ballot. They accuse all three men of protecting the officers involved in the Kelly Thomas beating death.

McKinley is a former Fullerton police chief and Bankhead is a retired police captain. The Fullerton Police Officers Association donated $19,000 to fight the recall.

Supporters claim the three city leaders failed to immediately release city-owned surveillance video of the beating. Bankhead has said he remains silent after Thomas's death only to protect the investigation on advice of the city attorney.

"The leadership that we've shown was to make sure that any evidence that was obtained would be admissible in court," said Bankhead.

"I did my best and I hope everything comes out all right," said McKinley on Tuesday. "And I appreciate the votes that people gave us. And those that vote against us, then I'll go on and do something else."

Those who fought the recall said the election was more about Fullerton property owner Tommy Bushala, who spent more than $200,000 of his own money on the race. Opponents said he is trying to get his friends elected in hopes of winning sweetheart property development deals. Bushala denies the accusation.

"If they were real leaders, they would have stepped up to the plate, they would have asked the questions, and they would have went to the city manager and said, 'We want to see the video tape,'" said Bushala.

A regularly scheduled Fullerton City Council meeting was also planned for Tuesday. They were expected to discuss the findings of a new task force put together after Thomas's death. The task force's recommendations include a need for year-round shelter, permanent housing and a new census done for Fullerton's mentally ill population.

Voting polls in Fullerton opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m.


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