Holland Recall Effort Fails

The effort to remove Hesperia City Councilman Bill Holland came up short last week, as petitioners were able to obtain only 1,168 valid signatures of voters within the city’s Second District, 618 fewer than the 1,786 needed.
Holland, who has been on the city council since he was initially elected in 2010, was reelected at large in 2014, and then successfully stood for election in 2018 in the city’s Second District in what was the first by-district election in the city’s then-30-year history.
Holland, who has been a pro-development candidate throughout his tenure on the city council and who was heavily backed by the building industry at every turn in his career as an elected official, became crosswise of certain development interests when he voted against utilizing $18.3 million in development impact fees the city had accumulated to pave El Centro Road, including a span of it in an unincorporated county area between Topaz Avenue and the Interstate 15 corridor. The city’s paving of that roadway would have spared developers building in that area from having to defray the cost of the roadwork.
The switchover to districts in Hesperia left those in office more vulnerable to recall, since the threshold for signatures needed to endorse a petition for recall dropped to one-fifth of what it had been previously when council members were elected at large.
After Holland’s 2018 election, one in which his campaign had been in large measure funded by the money of developers he was at that point on the outs with, those developers networked with Larry Nava, whom Holland had defeated in the 2018 election, as well as Jim Erwin, the former head of the union representing deputies employed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, to sponsor a recall against Holland. Holland, who had left the sheriff’s department and went to work as a security officer with the Hesperia School District, at one point had been a member of the union that Erwin headed.
An ostensible grounds for recalling Holland was his part in a scandal involving the school district and the Oak Hills High School Football Team relating to allegations lodged by former football player Josh Villegas, who said he was digitally raped in a hazing incident perpetrated by his teammates. It was alleged that Holland had carried out a sham investigation of Villegas’s accusations in an effort to whitewash the matter, and that he had allegedly purposefully destroyed evidence that would have validated Villegas’s accusations.
The recall effort took on a wider political import when Holland grew to become a prime mover in removing Jeremiah Brosowske from the Hesperia City Council last September based on a presumption that Brosowske actually does not live in Hesperia. The matter was a thorny one, as Holland had in 2018 voted to appoint Brosowske to the city council in the aftermath of the death of former Mayor/Councilman Russ Blewett. Brosowske and Holland were both stridently pro-development, much of their mutual support stemmed from the same sources and they initially endorsed each other in the 2018 race. The relationship between them soured, however, and Brosowske at more than one juncture vowed to see Holland removed from office.
Petitions with a total of 1,830 signatures affixed to them were turned into the Hesperia city clerk’s office. Mystery as to whether the recall effort would proceed to a vote ensued. On February 4, Holland asked for City Attorney Eric Dunn and City Clerk Melinda Sayre to update the community on where the recall stood. It was at that point that word was given that the recall effort had failed because of the insufficiency in the number of signatures.
Efforts to obtain comment from Holland and Erwin were not successful.

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