San Mateo mayor faces potential recall following messy mayoral appointment

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
San Mateo mayor faces potential recall months after appointment
San Mateo Mayor Amourence Lee is facing the push for a recall election, just months after taking over the job.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- You might not know it walking down the picturesque streets of San Mateo, but at the heart of this Peninsula city, a political battle is brewing.

For the past several weeks, groups of people have been gathering signatures trying to get a recall of San Mateo Mayor Amourence Lee on the Nov. ballot.

"I just think that her motivations and a lot of her behavior she hasn't shown honesty, she hasn't shown contrition, or a willingness to work with all of us," said Michael Weinhauer.

Weinhauer is a local resident and one of those pushing for the recall.

MORE: 'Recall fever': Why these elections are 'having a moment' in California

He says says five former San Mateo mayors support recalling Lee.

Weinhauer points to Lee's behavior as mayor, as well as her plans for the development of the city as some of the driving forces behind the campaign.

"When you become a leader you have to morph into someone who's driving for a particular cause into someone who represents your entire constituency," Weinhauer said.

But this isn't the first time that Lee's political career has come under fire. Back when she was appointed mayor several months ago, the process took several days.

VIDEO: San Mateo appoints mayor after week-long battle that caused outrage, upended city's precedent

After a week of controversy without a mayor, Amourence Lee has been appointed as San Mateo's first Jewish and Asian mayor.

That delay was caused by two San Mateo city councilmembers trying to stall Lee's appointment as mayor back in December.

It left the city without a mayor for a week and culminated in Lee alleging that she had been approached by individuals telling her to trade her vote for an empty city council seat for votes for her to become mayor.

Allegations that are now under investigation by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

As for the recall, Lee says she's focusing on the job at hand and not letting her critics faze her.

"I think most San Mateo residents and local businesses, they want us to stay focused on addressing unmet needs," Lee said.

Lee is supported by several prominent elected officials, including local U.S. Representative Kevin Mullin, State Treasurer Fiona Ma and others.

She believes the city should be focused on issues impacting all residents, and states a potential recall could cost as much as $1 million.

"I don't think that we can squander our limited resources. We need to focus on pandemic recovery, storm water infrastructure, emergency preparedness," Lee said.

In order to qualify for the fall ballot, organizers need to get 8,000 signatures by May.

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