Francisco Ramirez

District D Hanford City Councilman Francisco Ramirez speaks at an Arbor Day Ceremony. Some Hanford residents have launched a recall effort against him.

Sentinel file photo

HANFORD – A group of local residents has launched a recall effort against Hanford City Councilman Francisco Ramirez.

Earlier this month, the group filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition.

The group submitted 25 validated signatures of registered voters in District D, which is Ramirez's City Council district.

The group needed at least 20 signatures to make the notice valid.

The notice accuses Ramirez of "corruption and disregard for the law" as well as "malfeasance."

Specifically, the notice alleges that Ramirez raised more than $1,000 when he ran for the District D council seat in 2014.

Ramirez filed a form with the California Fair Political Practices Commission stating that he raised less than $1,000 and therefore wasn't required to create a campaign finance committee and file regular campaign finance reports.

The recall notice cites a June 2016 Kings County grand jury report alleging that Ramirez raised more than $3,000 in donations and in-kind gifts.

The recall notice also claims that Ramirez "knowingly and willfully misled voters" when he said he had two college degrees.

The degrees, which were obtained from online-based Columbia Pacific University, were declared invalid by the California Supreme Court in 2000.

Skip Athey, a Hanford resident critical of Ramirez, supports the recall effort.

"[Ramirez] broke the law," Athey said. "He denies that he broke the law. The grand jury says he did."

The Fair Political Practices Commission launched an investigation into Ramirez's campaign, but the investigation hasn't been completed.

"It's still ongoing," said FPPC Spokesman Jay Wierenga. "We don't comment on anything that's open."

Ramirez said he's cooperating with the FPPC.

"We're going to be doing a ground campaign letting citizens know [the recall effort] is a complete lie on a lot of these issues," Ramirez said.

Last week, Ramirez filed an official response to the recall notice.

In it, he stated that "there are some individuals that don't even live in [my] district that want me out of office because I'm not a part of the good old boys club."

Ramirez said he's "already complied or will comply subject to the pending recommendation of the FPPC."

"I will keep on fighting for the citizens of our great community," he said.

The recall effort has to clear several more hurdles in order for a special election to be scheduled for voters in District D.

In the next step, supporters have to submit a draft recall petition to Hanford City Clerk Jennifer Gomez for approval.

Gomez said that if she determined the petition met all the requirements, she would then return it to recall supporters for circulation.

The recall proponents would then have to get at least 848 signatures of registered voters in Ramirez' district in order to trigger a recall election.

Once she received the signatures, Gomez said she'd cross-reference a random sample of 500 of them to make sure they were registered voters living in Ramirez's district.

If the petition cleared that hurdle, Gomez said she'd present it to the City Council, which would then decide when to hold an election.

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. 

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