The Hanford City Clerk has rejected a Notice of Intent to recall Councilmember Diane Sharp.
“The notice of intent to circulate a recall petition to Council Member Diane Sharp was rejected on April 14, 2022,” stated Natalie Corral, City Clerk for Hanford.
The Notice of Intent was filed by Jim Nelson, a resident of Kings County.
“Mr. Nelson failed to satisfy the statute and he will need to prepare a new notice of intent and follow the proper preliminary recall procedures,” Corral stated.
Although Corral did not disclose why the Notice of Intent was rejected, Councilmember Sharp indicated it was related to signature verification issues.
“Twenty valid signatures are required, and at a quick glance, I could see that only 14 of the submitted signatures might be legally acceptable,” Sharp stated.
The Notice of Intent to Circulate a Recall Petition, received by the Hanford City Clerk on April 12, directly names Sharp:
“Pursuant to Section 11020, California Elections Code, the undersigned registered qualified voters of District C of Hanford, California, hereby give notice, we are the proponents of a recall petition and we intend to seek your recall and removal from the City Council office in Hanford, California, and to demand election of a successor in that office. “
Sharp said she is up to the challenge.
“Recalls are part of our electoral system,” she said. “This attempted filing is not a surprise … a group of folks concerned about the impacts of the Northstar Courts development threatened via social media and in person weeks ago that if I did not vote in a way they liked regarding the project, they were going to attempt to throw me out of office. “
Northstar Courts is a controversial affordable-housing project slated to be built next to the Fargo Crossing Shopping Center in Hanford.
More than 500 Kings County residents showed up at a “Special Town Hall Meeting” in February to voice their concerns about the multifamily housing proposal.
The Notice of Intent to recall Sharp mentions the Northstar affordable-housing project. However, the verbiage is focused primarily on Sharp’s demeanor at public meetings.
“Councilperson Sharp continues to demonstrate she has forgotten her duties as a responsible representative for the citizens of District C,” the notice states. “She has lost control of her emotions during town hall meetings and been physically threatening towards attendees; the Northstar Project Town Hall meeting, for example.”
The notice also cites Hanford City Council’s recent decision to request and institute a leadership change.
Sharp, who had been appointed mayor of Hanford by the Council in December, was replaced by Councilmember Kalish Morrow (District B) after a unanimous vote by the Council at a meeting a few weeks ago. During the same meeting, Sharp nominated herself to serve as vice-mayor.
She was appointed to the vice-mayor position after a 3-2 vote by the Council.
The notice to circulate a recall petition cites Sharp’s self-nomination among reasons for initiating a recall.
“[H]er utter disregard for the will of the people and her willingness to use any and all means at her disposal in order to preserve her power, position, and prestige on the council “is unacceptable to the” undersigned registered “voters, according to the petition .
Sharp said she has no regrets about nominating herself as vice-mayor or her actions on the city council in consideration of the Northstar affordable-housing development.
“There are pros and cons to the project,” she said. “At this point, it doesn’t really matter what I think about the project because the vote that we have on Tuesday night [April 19] has turned into a risk-management vote. The city has received three letters from attorneys claiming that if we fail to approve the TEFRA [Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act] bond they will sue us. “
Sharp also mentioned the state Attorney General’s office is prepared to file suit against municipalities that fail to comply with TEFRA.
“They have unlimited resources and the motivation to fight against municipalities like Hanford,” she said of the California Attorney General’s office.
One of the key reasons she did not oppose the development of the Northstar Courts affordable housing development, Sharp said, is the land was zoned to accommodate such a project.
“The property was zoned for mixed use,” she said. “None of the council members, to my knowledge, were aware of the project when it went through the site plan.”
Although Nelson reportedly is a member of the 1776 Sons of Liberty, Larry Faria, president of the group, said Sons of Liberty has nothing to do with the notice of petition to recall a Hanford City Council member.
“1776 Sons of Liberty is not involved in the petition to recall Diane Sharp,” Faria said. “We are not involved with the petition as an organization. It was filed by an individual.”
According to the Hanford City Clerk’s office, the notice was filed by Nelson, who declined to discuss the petition when contacted by the Sentinel.
Because Northstar Courts is not located within her district, Sharp said she is baffled that she was singled out.
“It’s a head-scratcher for me,” she said. “I understand there are people who feel betrayed by their government, but it’s hard to make a connection how recalling me …I can’t speculate as to their motives. “