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Calexico prepares for Recall Election

Calexico City Council Recall Election will be on Tuesday, April 16

CALEXICO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The Calexico Recall Election is heating up as residents decide the fate of two city council members on Tuesday, April 16.

We spoke with both council members, Calexico's first transgender mayor along with the current Mayor Pro-Tem, to hear what their thoughts are heading into next week along with a former city council member who's in favor of the recall.

On the ballot, Calexico voters will get to decide if Raul Ureña and Gilberto Manzanarez stay in office or get axed.

Emotions on both sides are strong. 

“I have faith that people will see the truth, people will see the evidence, the data that is on our side, and most importantly of all that people will not be swayed by hate," stated Gilberto Manzanarez, Calexico Mayor Pro Tem.

“This has been tearing apart the community for more than a year in negative and none constructive ways because the criticism of the opposition are not valid. They lack substance and they come from people who quite frankly have been disgraced in public office," expressed Raul Ureña, Calexico City Council Member.

After almost a year, what the Calexico Recall Committee fought for will soon play out before our eyes. 

“We have to win this election to save Calexico. Calexico is really bad now. The parks, the police, the recreation, everything is down. And then we have all these migrant workers coming in here and then we have all the homeless and they are not doing anything about it," said Morris Reisin, Calexico Recall Committee member.

The elections office said they have about 21,000 registered voters who can participate in this recall election.

We spoke to Morris Reisin who served on the Calexico City Council in 2020.

He shared some of the reasons why he supports the recall.

“They misuse the funds. They don’t spend the money the way they are supposed to. They want to put 300 beds for migrant workers downtown. We don’t want the migrant workers downtown. We have to fix downtown, we have to save downtown," shared Reisin.

However, Pro-tem Gilberto Manzararez said there has been miscommunication when it comes to the city.

“How can it be my fault that these problems that Calexico has been dragging for over a decade be the fault of this one specific council member who has been there for four months when there's people actively in council today who has been there for close to five years, but they're not getting recalled. So this is very obviously points to it's not about the benefit of Calexico, it's a political power struggle," expressed Manzanarez.

Manzanarez and Ureña say they haven't felt safe during the recall process and had to increase security for every city council meeting.  

“Unfortunately the people of the recall movement have not been so civil towards us. We have had cases, and it’s all documented and recorded of people yelling out transphobic homophobic slurs to Ureña, insulting us on the streets when we are walking by," said Manzanarez.

“I have definitely made some modifications to my personal safety. I feel like people can be cruel and one is do it without fear and definitely take safety and caution, especially during these days," said Ureña.

However, former city council member Reisin said that is not the reason.

“They are using the racist game. They say that we are racist and that we are against the gay. That is not true. We are here because the way he spends the money," said Reisin.

Both Ureña and Manzanarez say they will keep fighting for a better Calexico.

“If we win and we continue to work for the people, one of the proposals that we have in mind, and it’s very important for people to know this, is that we are going to be proposing this November, presidential election, a new tax measure. The first one in over 14 years in the city of Calexico that targets vacant lots and blight property, because we have a lot of those in Calexico and it’s time to pay because look, our city is in need," shared Manzanarez.

Manzanarez said this would help bring more money to the city.

They both say this movement is not about themselves but about saving the city they love.

We reached out to one of the leaders of the Calexico Recall Committee but they declined to speak with us.

Article Topic Follows: Local Politics

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Karina Bazarte

Karina Bazarte joined the KYMA team as a reporter in September 2022.
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