RIVERSIDE (CBS) — The makeup of the San Jacinto City Council was dramatically altered on Wednesday after four of five members were recalled in response to an alleged campaign money-laundering scandal.
Mayor Dale Stubblefield, along with council members James Ayers, John Mansperger and James Potts, were all voted out of office, with their constituents voting 4-to-1 in favor of recall, according to election returns.
Stubblefield’s and Mansperger’s terms end in January, but neither planned to seek reelection.
Last November, all four men and five associates — including Ayers’ wife, Nancy — were named in a 155-count indictment alleging bribery, campaign money-laundering and tax fraud.
In September, six additional people were implicated in the case and charged with several counts of making campaign contributions under a false name, conspiracy and perjury.
City Councilman Steve Di Memmo, who was not indicted, called on his colleagues last year to resign.
Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said he had “never seen anything like” the scheme, which allegedly involved hundreds of thousands of dollars being illegally funneled into James Ayers’ failed 2006 bid to win the GOP nomination for the 65th Assembly District.
A trial date is expected to be set next year.
In an introduction to their recall initiative, proponents wrote that Ayers, Mansperger, Potts and Stubblefield were “unfit” representatives because of their “irresponsible actions in office.”
“San Jacinto deserves a new city council majority that will reflect the spirit and integrity of this community and who will place the interests of citizens of this community above all else,” the recall backers stated.
Ayers pointed to the city’s “improved financial position,” infrastructure and economic future as evidence of his hard work and called the campaign being waged against him a “false, misleading and rumor-filled sham.”
Mansperger hailed the council’s work and asked voters to judge him on his record of the last few years and not the recall allegations.
Stubblefield reminded voters that a person is “innocent until proven guilty,” while Potts highlighted his record of service and suggested the recall was rooted entirely in “politics.”
In addition to recalling Ayers, voters elected dairy farmer Mark Bartel to fill the seat. Bartel defeated Michael Fred Allen, a teacher.
With Potts being recalled, Andrew Kotyuk, chairman of the Diamond Valley Arts Council, was elected to take over the seat. He defeated James D. Pangrazzi, a civic activist.
There were a dozen candidates vying to fill Mansperger’s and Stubblefield’s seats.
With all precincts reporting, Scott Miller was the top vote-getter, followed by Bernard Simon, but provisional ballots were still being counted.
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