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2003 recall election in review

Mills College Weekly

For the first time ever, California has recalled its governor.
Gray Davis has been removed from office by voters who elected
Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him. But overwhelmingly, voters on
campus and around the Bay Area voted against the recall of Gov.
Davis, and did not vote for Schwarzenegger.

While most people in the area were happy that Propositions 53
and 54 had been defeated, they were surprised and upset by the
recall decision.

“What we think doesn’t even matter,” said junior Elisa Clawson.
“I think northern California needs to be a different state.”

Clawson is not alone; resumer Lynne Sloan wondered if northern
California could secede from southern California. Sloan said she
was in California when Reagan was governor and thought he set
horrible precedents in public policy, but that she was glad the two
propositions had been defeated.

Not all students were upset about the outcome of the recall.
Olney resident Kassi Kappelos was pleased with the outcome of the

“I hung a sign on my door saying ‘Thank God Arnold Won’,” said
Kappelos. “Now, I’ve basically got a clan outside my door. Everyone
keeps knocking asking why, why, why. I’m sick of the whys I’m
entitled to my opinion.”

Kappelos said she felt that Schwarzenegger will do a better job
overall, and will better represent what Californians want. She said
it’s been hard lately, seemingly in the political minority among
teachers and students, and it was important to be able to voice her

“I do wish students could be a little more mature in some of
their responses though,” Kappelos said.

But most Republicans interviewed on campus and in the
surrounding neighborhoods said they voted against the recall,
echoing the results of most Bay Area counties. In Alameda County,
70 percent of voters said no on the recall.

One woman, who declined to give her name but said she was a
moderate Republican active in party politics, voted against the
recall and didn’t select a replacement candidate.

“I was all for the recall in the beginning, then I saw what my
options were and how much of a circus they were making it,” she

The majority of voters willing to share their vote outside the
nearby polls on 35th Ave. said that they had voted against the
recall, for Bustamente, and against the two propositions.

For many students, this was their first time eligible to

“Finally, I’m able to be heard,” said freshwoman Stacia Mills,
who said Prop. 54 was the reason she made sure to get to the polls.
She was delighted the measure was defeated.

“Funny that the first [election] I get to vote in is this
recall. I am really excited,” said one freshwoman before voting the

For others, the chaos of the recall only reinforced their
reasons to vote.

“If I don’t vote, then I can’t complain,” said senior Ruth

“The more people believe their vote counts, the more people can
affect the decisions that are made,” said junior Erica Ard.

The Mills Van runs to the polls were instrumental in some
students being able to vote, and they were happy to have the
special service.

“I wouldn’t have voted without the bus,” said sophomore Isabelle
Luebbers. “I wouldn’t have had the time or resources.”

This election has been cause for endless jokes pointed at
Schwarzenegger, at California and its residents. For some, the
results made those jokes ring true.

“I was disappointed. It was the first time I felt like the
statements about California were right – we really are a land of
fruits and nuts,” said one student.

Of the state’s 15.4 million registered voters, around 1 million
showed up at the polls, and 2.2 million absentee ballots were
submitted; overall about 60 percent of California voters cast a

An election official at the 35th Ave. polls said it was
inspiring to see so many people wanting to vote, especially after
the low turnout last November and considering there were 10,000
less polling places available than usual because of the short time
to prepare for the recall.

The recall initiative, started and largely funded by Congressman
Darrel Issa, succeeded in removing Davis, who had been elected in
1998 by the largest margin in state history. With 58 percent of the
vote, Davis’ victory was a landslide over his opponent, Dan
Lundgren, who garnered less than 40 percent of the vote. By 2002,
however, support for Davis had waned greatly, and he was re-elected
last November with a much smaller margin of 5 percent over Bill
Simon, with a record low voter turnout.

Vanessa Marlin and Lynn Burns contributed to this