Click photo to enlarge
Gerard Boulanger, Anton Jungherr and Dan Romero, from left, all advocates of a recall of Hercules City Councilman Don Kuehne and Mayor Joanne Ward, deliver petitions to the Hercules City Clerk at City Hall in Hercules, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. The recall petitions accuse Kuehne and Ward of failed leadership. (Sherry LaVars/Staff)

TUESDAY'S RECALL election in Hercules has been driven by a wonderful grass-roots movement to bring honesty, integrity and competency to the City Council.

Joanne Ward and Don Kuehne, the two remaining council members who presided over an era of nepotism and fiscal irresponsibility, must go. We urge voters to support their recall.

However, we are deeply troubled by revelations over the weekend that make clear Gerard Boulanger, the only candidate running to replace Kuehne, has been dishonest about his credentials. It's clear that Boulanger did not serve in elective office in France as he claimed, nor did he earn degrees there that he listed on his resume.

To restore faith in Hercules city government, we must have officials who are honest, whether it's during elections or while serving. For that reason, we are withdrawing our endorsement of Boulanger and urging him to resign if elected so that the new City Council can select his replacement or call another special election.

To summarize, we endorse:

  • Dan Romero, a smart, tenacious council watchdog who has lived in the city for 22 years, for the open seat on the ballot.

  • Recall of Ward, and the election of William Wilkins, who brings a keen understanding of the city's finances and redevelopment problems, to replace her.

  • Recall of Kuehne. We no longer make an endorsement on his replacement.

    It's unfortunate that Boulanger is the only candidate running to replace Kuehne. We wish we had an alternative. As a practical matter, if Kuehne is recalled, Boulanger will be elected to his seat.

    But the lack of a solid replacement for Kuehne does not dissuade us from our endorsement of his recall. Time and again, Kuehne has proved himself unfit for office.

    Most notably, Kuehne and Ward approved egregious contracts for City Manager Nelson Oliva's young daughters while turning a blind eye to his unethical behavior -- even after problems with the nepotistic arrangement had been widely publicized by this paper and questioned by the grand jury. Later, when an interim city manager finally uncovered the horrible state of city finances, Kuehne and Ward voted to fire him and bring back Oliva.

    To this day, Kuehne and Ward have yet to admit their role in the city's ethical and financial debacles. As troubled as we are by Boulanger's dishonesty, at least he has acknowledged his mistakes.

    In our conversation with Boulanger on Monday, he indicated he understood the seriousness of the situation. He said he wanted to wait to see if he is elected before deciding whether to resign. It seemed he was considering the option. He said he was not trying to avoid responsibility and added, "Hercules is more important than me."

    That's exactly right. This is about repairing the financial and ethical damage to Hercules government. Given the circumstances, the best outcome will be the recall of Kuehne and the subsequent resignation of Boulanger. That would leave the other four council members, who will by then have all stood the test of the voters in the prior seven months, to select a replacement or call an election.

    No on Richmond Measures C, D

    In the other key East Bay election, we recommend that voters reject Richmond Measures C and D. This misguided, complicated scheme would increase sales tax in the city to 10.25 percent, higher than that of all but two cities in Alameda or Contra Costa counties.

    Vote Tuesday

    Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in communities holding elections. Voters who still possess absentee ballots must deliver them in person to a polling location or to the county elections office to ensure they arrive by the 8 p.m. Tuesday deadline. Those ballots placed in the mail on Tuesday will not arrive in time.