The Gilroy City Council will soon consider asking Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz to resign if a recall effort against her qualifies for a ballot.
During the council’s Sept. 19 meeting, Mayor Marie Blankley requested the item be brought to the council at an upcoming meeting. The council agreed 5-2 to place it on the agenda for consideration, with Armendariz and Councilmember Zach Hilton giving it a thumbs down.
The recall effort began in April, after an administrative investigation by Hanson Bridgett concluded that Armendariz violated several city ordinances when she helped organize a 2021 Halloween party at her residence in which two people were shot and killed and two others were injured. Armendariz was issued 10 administrative citations, amounting to $1,200 in fines, which she appealed. Armendariz’s mother Augustina and son Domingo, along with Benjamin Calderon, were also issued citations for their role in the party.
However, the appeals were withdrawn and the fines have been paid, the City of Gilroy announced Sept. 15.
The family of Jesse Sanchez, one of the men who was shot at the party and later died, filed a wrongful death suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Aug. 22, which names Rebeca, Augustina and Domingo Armendariz, along with the City of Gilroy, as the defendants.
“As councilmembers we have heard the many voices who have questions about the financial consequences already brought on the city and criticism for remaining silent while the recall effort proceeds and the financial burdens to the public continues to mount,” Blankley said. “The overwhelming cry that we do something to protect the city and the continued insistence from members of the public that we do something are difficult to address when only the democratic process of an election can bring about or remove a councilmember.”
Blankley said the request would be made if proponents of the recall initiative gather enough signatures to make it on the ballot, but before a costly special election moves forward.
Blankley’s request was during the period of the meeting when councilmembers can seek to place items on a future agenda, but they cannot comment on the merits of such proposals. They can, however, ask for clarification, and Armendariz asked Blankley if a request for resignation was legal.
“We can’t force—we don’t have the power—but anybody can ask,” Blankley said.
Proponents have until Oct. 12 to gather at least 6,217 signatures, or 20% of the 31,082 registered voters in Gilroy city limits, in the hopes of placing the initiative on a future ballot.
In a letter posted to the city’s website, City Clerk Thai Nam Pham wrote that a special election could cost the city between $1,243,274-$2,020,320, according to figures by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Armendariz’s attorney, Daniel Mayfield, did not respond to a request for comment.
Erik Chalhoub is editor of the Gilroy Dispatch.