Elk Grove Hmong Americans (EGHA), an activist group, held a press conference outside Elk Grove City Hall on March 23 to announce their recall campaign against Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen.
The campaign will next circulate a petition. Its organizers will need about 10,000 signatures – about 10% of the number of registered voters in the 2020 election – to qualify for placing the recall issue on a city election ballot.
Elk Grove City Clerk Jason Lindgren told the Citizen that the proponents have about six months to gather these signatures, but that they could submit them earlier “if they get the needed signatures rapidly.”
Organizers include Elk Grove residents Mia Foster and Sai Vang, and Orangevale resident Marie Vue, who allege that Singh-Allen made derogatory comments that targeted the Hmong community. They also organized a protest rally last August against Singh-Allen during her 2020 mayoral campaign.That November, she defeated incumbent Steve Ly who was America's first Hmong mayor when he was elected in 2016.
Singh-Allen, a former Elk Grove Unified School District trustee, joined the mayoral race last summer after becoming one of several local women to allege they were harassed by Ly’s associates or supporters.
A month earlier, she used her personal Facebook page to refer to the Hmong patriarchal clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence these women.” It was that statement, which led to protests against Singh-Allen that also included an online petition for her to resign from the school board.
EGHA’s notice of intention to circulate a recall petition notes that Singh-Allen “continues to deny instigating anti-Asian hatred, and she refuses to answer to her constituents in the city of Elk Grove for the hate she has perpetuated against the Hmong community.”
Foster told the Citizen that her group is targeting getting the recall issue on an election ballot next year.
While standing in front of a small crowd during the March 23 press conference, Foster said that Singh-Allen has failed to take “responsibility for the hate she caused.”
“How many more Asian lives must be lost before people like Bobbie stop promoting Asian invisibility by telling us how we are allowed to react when an elected official labels our culture ‘controlling and intimidating’ – when an elected official stirs up hate within the community against our people – and when an elected official scapegoats an entire community for the alleged actions of one man (Ly)?” she asked.
Foster claimed that Singh-Allen’s “words and actions” pertaining to the Hmong community resulted in the harassment of “countless Asian Americans in our city.”
Vang recalled telling Singh-Allen at a City Council meeting last December that she had 90 days to “fix the division she has caused or be faced with a recall.”
“Since then, we continued to make our effort in reminding Bobbie at every City Council meeting,” she said. “Our voices went unheard. We did not get one single response from Bobbie or any of the council members.
“A true leader should be able to handle criticisms. A true leader should be able to lead by example. A true leader will do what is right, and not what’s popular. This is not the skill set Bobbie Singh-Allen exerted. We need new leadership.”
Also speaking against the mayor at the event was Vue, who noted that the group’s recall effort sends a “clear message.”
“We are not your political pawns and we will not allow for you to tarnish or disparage any community for your political gain,” she said. “Your lack of remorse for the damage you have caused shows your true character, and today, we stand together and say, ‘No more.’”
Foster said that she and her group’s effort are not politically motivated, and that they simply desire to hold an elected official accountable.
“It’s been painful trying to speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves and being told that your concerns aren’t valid and that you’re merely being politically motivated; it’s disgusting,” she said.
In a statement released on March 23, following the press conference, Singh-Allen stated that the recall effort is politically motivated.
“It’s a shame when people can’t accept election outcomes and our decisive victory garnering the most votes for mayor in Elk Grove history, and uniting our community in the process,” she said. “Using the racism card is dangerous and desensitizes communities when tackling real racism in our country.”
Singh-Allen referred to the recall effort group as “shadowy,” and that those heading the group made “hateful and false accusations.”
“This recall effort is their current effort to distract me from my work as mayor to help our small businesses and working families,” she said. “It won’t work. I am razor-sharp focused on leading Elk Grove’s economic recovery, keeping our community safe, attracting high paying jobs, solving our traffic issues and more. The election is over.”
Singh-Allen added that during her mayoral campaign, she had strong Asian American and Pacific Islander support from elected officials, including Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Elk Grove City Council members Darren Suen and Stephanie Nguyen.
Singh-Allen concluded that the Elk Grove Hmong Americans group’s leaders are “scapegoating real Asian hate crimes to advance their political agenda.”
In support of Singh-Allen, Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, referred to the recall effort as “an attempt to spread disinformation and falsehoods.”
“It’s really unfortunate that some residents in our community continue to seek to divide us,” he wrote in a statement. “The recent recall effort of our newly elected mayor of Elk Grove is an attempt to spread disinformation and falsehoods by those who aren’t happy with last November’s election results.
“Mayor (Singh-)Allen will lead our city with poise and conviction, and deserves an opportunity to lead without baseless allegations being thrown around.”
Angela Perry, CEO of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, called Singh-Allen a “champion for people of all races.”
“I have never known Mayor Singh-Allen to be anything less than a champion for people of all races,” she said. “I am proud to partner with her in her work to rebuild Elk Grove’s economy.”
Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen’s full statement on recall petition
“It’s a shame when people can’t accept election outcomes and our decisive victory garnering the most votes for Mayor in Elk Grove History and uniting our community in the process.
Using the “racism” card is dangerous and desensitizes communities when tackling real racism in our country.
The people behind this shadowy group are the same ones that used bull horns to prevent me from debating the former mayor, staged protests chanting “no justice, no peace” as they accused me of racism. Using slogans originating from systemic harm and racism endured by our African - American brothers and sisters to advance their narrative is wrong! Saying something over and over doesn’t make it any more true today than it did during the campaign trail.
I am a strong woman that will not be distracted by hateful and false allegations. People see through it. This recall effort is their current effort to distract me from my work as Mayor to help our small businesses and working families. It won't work. I am razor sharp focused on leading Elk Grove's Economic Recovery, keeping our community safe, attracting high paying jobs, solving our traffic issues, and more. The election is over.
I won this election with strong API support from Congressman Bera, Senator Pan, State Controller Betty Yee, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Elk Grove Councilmembers Suen and Nguyen, Former Lt. Governor Mona Pasquil, and so many others. It is tragic that they are scapegoating real Asian Hate Crimes to advance their political agenda and personal vendettas. Nothing is more important now than combating hate and working together to come out of this pandemic strong.”
-Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh Allen