John Huerta. File photo.
On Nov. 18, Mayor of Greenfield John Huerta, Jr. was served with an intent to recall.
Huerta is added to the list of council members being recalled, a list that now includes council members Yolanda Teneyuque and John Martinez.
Public notice of the intent to recall was published Dec. 1 and since Dec.2, petitions have been making the rounds in an attempt to collect the required 25 percent of registered voters in Greenfield for the recall to be validated by the elections department in Salinas.
Recall leader Rachel Ortiz said, “It has not been difficult to get signatures.” She added, “Things have been very positive. The only thing happening is that the members of the community are confused and don’t understand exactly what’s going on.”
Within the last few months, Greenfield has had a referendum and three attempts to recall three of the five council members.
The referendum was put into place to appeal the decision made by the City Council to merge public safety services with Soledad. After a 3-2 vote, with the majority approving the merge, the agreeing votes came from council members Yolanda Teneyuque, John Martinez and Randy Hurley. The dissenting votes were from Mayor John Huerta and council member Annie Moreno. The merge is postponed until action is done in regards to the referendum.
After that decisive vote, council members Teneyuque and Martinez were served with intent to recall. On Nov. 14, approximately 1,231 raw signatures were collected and turned in to the city clerk. Those signatures are still being validated by election department and action is pending.
Not related to the above recalls and referendum, comes the recall of Mayor John Huerta. He became a council member in 1998 and has been serving as mayor since 2002.
Ortiz said, “This decision did not come easy for us, a referendum that will cost the City money. We had to sit down and think about what it is we are trying to do and what the smart effective way to do it is.”
Due to tough economic times all around, property taxes have plummeted and negatively affected the City’s general fund.
Huerta said, “We did come out of the gate for seven, eight years and formed a redevelopment agency that has used our own taxes to invest in the future.”
“It’s a critical time for people in Greenfield,” said Ortiz. “Decisions have to be made that not everyone likes. They mayor has taken the approach to build the city and they will come, but we have empty buildings, no new prospects of businesses and no ideas have been brought forth to increase revenue.”
The cause of the recall of the mayor, Ortiz said, has to do with the public safety issues, but also with the larger issues at hand.
“Yes, the vote on public safety has to do with it, but overall we need a new leader,” said Ortiz. “There were options for the City to save money, and we weren’t given reasons why they didn’t work. If you are voting no, then give us an explanation why and how do we fix it.”
Huerta said, “The reason I voted ‘no’ was that it was not something they City was looking at in the long term. The merge with Soledad and Greenfield Police Department I felt just assisted Soledad with its budget shortfalls. The numbers that were used were proposed savings, not real numbers. Not knowing what was going to be saved.”
Huerta added, “It was the best case scenario and it was just numbers in the air and no one really knew in the end what the cost savings would be, so I was very skeptical.”
Ortiz said, “The City’s reputation is bad, and we need a leader that will be able to put us back together. Greenfield needs to feel good about itself again. He’s got to make the people believe in the City again, and I don’t think Mayor Huerta can do that.”
As for why Annie Moreno, the other dissenting vote on the Greenfield-Soledad public safety merge, Ortiz said, “She’s given a lot of years to the community and this is not just about one issue, it is about the need for change in leadership.”
Huerta said, “Only time will tell what will happen. There’s a lot of information out there, but I think my record stands for itself. It is clear. As a three term successfully elected mayor, I feel I want to protect my position. The City has progressed and a lot has been put in place for the future.”
Ortiz said, “The community understands they have the power to make the change whether they are signing referendum, another recall or this recall.”