Recall Effort Against East Bay Mayor Gains Steam

Hercules Mayor
Ed Balico may face
a recall campaign.

There is talk of throwing the bums out in Hercules. Three of the five councilmembers, including the mayor and two who were just elected last November, are being targeted by a group of citizens in the East Bay city this week with cries of nepotism, corruption and wounded civic pride.

Ed Balico, the popular mayor, at least with the city’s sizable Filipino-American population, tussled with the interim city manager last month over suggestions Hercules was headed towards financial disaster. Cries of Hercules becoming the dreaded next Vallejo, which fell into bankruptcy in 2008, were inevitably raised with some outlets reporting Balico found the suggestion hurt his own local business interests.

City Manager Charlie Long was let go nearly two months into his eight-month contract filling-in for the previous manager who is currently on medical leave. Balico’s reputation for backroom dealings has been known in the area for sometime. The Contra Costa Times has backed calls for his resignation in the past. In an editorial today, they urged mayors in the county to not reappoint Balico to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and called him “unacceptable.”

“The mayors must say no–they must send a message that nepotism and trading on political positions for personal gain is not acceptable in this county,” the editorial said. The uncommonly pointed attack by the paper faulted Balico for threatening the fiscal health of the city. “He has blocked efforts to clean up Hercules, which has been plagued by the nepotism of its outgoing city manager, unconscionably wasteful contracts and fiscal irresponsibility that threatens to push the city off a financial cliff,” they said.

Most recall efforts at the local level are usually bluster, but the situation in Hercules shows signs of a long-simmering pressure cooker ready to let off some steam. Opponents of Balico and the other councilmembers will meet Thursday discuss their nascent effort for a recall campaign.