Sonoma County Attorney Jill Ravitch relieved, ready to refocus after recall failed

A day after perhaps the greatest political triumph of her career – and certainly the most moving – Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch felt relieved, encouraged, honored, empowered.

And tired. Tired of devoting energy to Bill Gallaher, she said, and his singular quest to oust him from the post she has held since her first election in 2010.

Voters on Tuesday flatly rejected his recall – a $ 1.7 million effort funded solely by Gallaher, campaign records show – because about 80% of the ballots counted on Wednesday were against the recall.

“Reject revenge. I mean, what’s good? Ravitch said Wednesday, referring to his campaign motto which described what she and others thought was Gallaher’s motivation.

“I get so many messages of support. But the best message was the mood in my office today. Everyone at work is relieved and excited that we can focus even more on the work that we are doing and not worry about the garbage being spread. “

The encore contest was unusual in that Ravitch was not running against another candidate. None filed to appear on the ballot as a replacement if the recall was successful.

So she had no opposition to show that she was the best person for the job. She had no one to argue with.

Instead, the recall pitted its campaign against a broadband launched by Gallaher, a politically active Sonoma County native developer whose company, Oakmont Senior Living, has built around 50 senior care facilities in California and in Nevada. Gallaher is also founder and chairman of Poppy Bank, based in Santa Rosa.

Gallaher launched the recall effort last year almost two months after one of his companies agreed to pay $ 500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by local and state prosecutors over the abandonment of 100 frail and elderly residents of two Oakmont Senior Living care homes in Fountaingrove in 2017 Tubbs fire raged. The elderly escaped with the help of family, friends and first responders. One of the houses burned down.

The recall effort also came less than a week after Ravitch announced she would not be running for a fourth term in 2022.

Ravitch and her campaign privately expressed confidence that she would resist Gallaher’s political strike. Yet when the first results of Tuesday’s election were released, it sparked a wave of stunned cries, screams and victorious punches from his group of supporters gathered at the Teamsters union hall in Santa Rosa.

The surprise came from the relevance of the figures. With nearly half of the votes expected, the recall campaign was beaten, overtaken at a rate of five votes to one.

All ridings with in-person votes have since been reported, but Voters Registrar Deva Proto said his employees are still reviewing ballots received on Tuesday, and others in the mail this week. She expects the turnout to reach 70% and may have updates by the end of the week.

Additional ballots should not change the outcome of the DA recall.

Gallaher could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. His wife, Cindy, who has sometimes served as the family spokesperson, declined to comment on the election and what the loss means for the family.

Those responsible for the recall campaign declined to comment on Tuesday evening beyond a written statement extolling the importance of elected officials’ accountability.

“We are proud of the campaign we have waged and the long-term impacts this movement will have on the accountability and transparency of Sonoma County politics, regardless of the outcome of the recall,” the statement read. unsigned.

Together, Gallaher and his daughter Molly Flater, an executive at the family development business, have spent more than $ 3.5 million on two elections in the past two years, according to campaign finance records. Flater said he spent $ 1.8 million to defeat a 2020 measure that sought an early renewal of the quarter-cent sales tax that supports SMART, North Bay’s passenger rail system.

The recall campaign targeting Ravitch was the most expensive of its kind in Sonoma County history. The recall election itself was also exceptionally rare – the first targeting a county elected official since the late 1970s.

Ravitch said Gallaher concocted the recall campaign to avenge his office’s lawsuits in the Tubbs fire case and damage his reputation in the community. Gallaher’s campaign targeted Ravitch’s brother by falsely insinuating that she intervened on his behalf after he was sued in Napa County for a fatal car crash in 2015 that killed his best friend.

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