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Carson city clerk subject of recall election

Carson Mayor Jim Dear speaks to protestors outside the Shell Oil facility in South Los Angeles.
Grant Slater/KPCC
FILE: Jim Dear, then Carson mayor, speaks to protestors outside the Shell Oil facility in South Los Angeles in 2013. Now city clerk, Dear is facing a recall election next week.

Voters in the city of Carson will decide the fate of their embattled city clerk, Jim Dear, who could be recalled in a special election on Tuesday.

It’s been almost a year since Dear, a former mayor of Carson, was elected as city clerk. During that time, he’s faced restraining orders from city officials, had his access to City Hall restricted and been banned from doing many aspects of his job. 

The moves stem from a string of allegations that Dear harassed city workers, causing some to plan escape routes and fear for their safety. He is also accused of making negative racial remarks and acting erratically at public meetings. 

Dear survived a previous recall attempt in 2008.

In Tuesday's special election that will cost $250,000, voters will decide whether Dear should be ousted as city clerk. At the same time, voters will decide whether to elect Donesia Gause, currently a City Council member, to serve in Dear's place.

Gause is the only person running to fill the post. Should voters decide Dear is out, the council will then decide whether to appoint someone to fill Gause's council seat or hold yet another special election. 

Dear left his post as mayor in March 2015, mid-way through a four-year term. At the time, the mayor was paid $22,700 and the city clerk's salary was $122,900.

The Daily Breeze reported earlier this month that the Carson City Council called on the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to investigate whether Dear gave up the mayor's post for the city clerk's job to increase his pension.

The paper also reported in September that Dear and his supporters blamed politics for a probe into his conduct and that he denied doing anything wrong. 

KPCC attempted to contact Dear at his office and through another available phone number, but he could not be reached for comment.

Carson has 54,000 registered voters who can cast their ballots in the special election at 30 polling locations. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.  Mail-in ballots will also be counted. 

Sue Herbers, a retired city clerk from the city of Torrance working under a temporary contract, has been appointed to run the special election in Carson.

"I’m here to run a free and fair election. We’re doing the best we can to make it work for the voters," Herbers said. 

Herbers sits across the hall from Dear’s office and said workers there haven't seen much of him during the controversy. 

"He hasn’t been in very much," she said. 

For questions about the election, including locations of polling places, voters can reach the Carson city clerk's office at 310-952-1720.