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Differing opinions from Shasta County voters on tense recall election

Voting booths.
Kristopher Radder
AP Photo
Voting booths.

Early unofficial results of a Shasta County special election point to Second District Supervisor Leonard Moty being recalled. As of Wednesday morning, unofficial results showed voters voting yes on the recall with 53% of the votes that have been counted.

Shasta County sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter in District 2. Voters could mail in their ballots, deposit them in designated drop boxes, or vote in person.

Those who voted to recall Moty also had the opportunity to vote for his replacement. Currently fewer than 40 votes separate Tim Garman and Dale Ball, the two leading replacement candidates.

Moty was initially criticized for upholding California state mask and COVID-19 mandates, but some voters had other concerns.

"I just feel that he's a roadblock for the county to be able to move forward, both as a community and the things that we're going to need to do going forward," said Ben Swim, who voted to recall Moty.

Kathy Bissman said she voted for the recall because of concerns with voting security, restrictive COVID-19 policies in schools and homelessness in the county.

"I feel we need a fresh start," Bissman said. "There are some things that I didn't feel were being done correctly, and so I wanted to get more on a people-based orientation where all of us have more of a say in what goes on."

Other voters, like Sylvia Link, opposed the election.

"I believe it's a waste of taxpayer money," Link said. "And when the people have spoken, and the people have elected someone that they should serve their entire term."

Voter Ken Scott agreed, calling the recall of the former Redding police chief "garbage."

"I don't think it was a right thing for them to recall him, to want to recall him," Scott said. "I think he was a decent cop when he was for many a year, and I think he's just a decent person, I guess."

As they cast their ballots, multiple voters and election workers referenced the tense political climate surrounding the recall election. Supporters of the recall have ties to local militia groups.

Kandi Kalinowski, a longtime poll worker in Shasta County elections, said the political climate in the county and the country as a whole right now is "very divisive." She said a number of voters who came to her polling place expressed fear their ballot wouldn't be counted correctly.

"We try to talk to them, we walk them through the process, we show them everything," Kalinowski said. "And some of them are satisfied. And there was one that wasn't real satisfied today. They were just really concerned. And they kept talking about the dictator. And, you know, we tried to try to allay their fears."

Despite those and other efforts, Kalinowski said there could be more communication with voters about how elections work, and specifically the newer mail-in voting procedures.

"I think there needs to be more communication of the process," she said. "You know, we're doing this and everyone gets this and so on."

Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen said Tuesday her office works hard to communicate with voters and build trust in the system, including inviting people to review the process. Still, she said it has been difficult to overcome those locally and nationally trying to cast doubt on the system.

"It's just a really difficult thing to try and overcome the voice of folks who have national reputations and national platforms," she said. "There's just no way I'm going to ever out-shout any of those folks. At the same time, I'm the person who is the subject matter expert in how to make this all work, right?"

The county has 30 days to certify Tuesday's election.

CapRadio’s Chris Hagan contributed to this report. 

Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.