LOS BANOS, CA: If you live, work, or own a business in Los Banos, you’re about to witness firsthand the community’s strong commitment to democratic principles and holding elected officials accountable. The current recall efforts against City Councilmembers Brett Jones and Doug Begonia are a testament to this dedication. This movement highlights the importance of civic engagement and the power of residents to ensure their voices are heard in local governance.

The Recall Effort: Origins and Motivations

The recall notices were officially served to Jones and Begonia in early May 2024, marking the start of a process that could lead to their removal from office in the November elections. The campaign to recall these councilmembers stems from a series of controversial decisions and alleged mismanagement that have sparked widespread discontent among residents.

Graciano Rubio, a prominent local businessman, expressed the frustration of many when he said, “They’re not upholding their most critical duty, which is to be the voice for their citizens.” This sentiment resonates with numerous residents who feel neglected and unrepresented by their elected officials​.

One of the most significant grievances against Councilmember Doug Begonia is his perceived lack of communication with his district. Residents have expressed frustration over unreturned calls and emails, feeling that their concerns and needs are being ignored. This sense of disconnect between the councilmember and his constituents has fueled the desire for change, as many believe that effective representation requires open and responsive communication channels between elected officials and the people they serve. This widespread dissatisfaction has been a key driver of the recall effort, emphasizing the community’s demand for more engaged and accountable leadership.

The Pinheiro Controversy: A Catalyst for Change

Central to the recall effort is the controversy surrounding the rehiring of former City Manager Josh Pinheiro. Initially hired in October 2021 despite lacking prior government experience, Pinheiro was dismissed in June 2022 after numerous complaints about his management style and alleged mistreatment of city employees. In a contentious decision, Jones, Begonia, and other councilmembers voted to rehire Pinheiro in February 2023, awarding him a substantial $1.8 million payout—a decision the city’s employment liability insurer refused to cover.

Adding to the controversy, the council implemented a requirement for a unanimous vote to fire the city manager, a move perceived by many as a betrayal of public trust. These actions have led to allegations of Brown Act violations, harassment of staff, and significant turnover in city employees, further fueling community frustration. This series of decisions and the resulting dissatisfaction among residents have significantly contributed to the momentum behind the recall effort.

The Recall Process: A Democratic Safeguard

Recalls are a vital mechanism in democratic systems, enabling citizens to hold their elected officials accountable between regular election cycles. The process to recall an elected official in California is designed to be thorough, ensuring that such actions are not taken lightly. It begins with a 200-word statement outlining the reasons for the recall, followed by the collection of signatures from at least 50 voters in the respective district to initiate the petition. If the petition garners signatures from 25% of the district’s voters, the recall is placed on the ballot in the next election.

In Los Banos, this means that voters in Districts 2 and 3 will have the chance to decide whether to recall Begonia and Jones in November. If the recall is successful, they will also elect their replacements, ensuring that the community continues to be represented during this period of transition. This process underscores the community’s power to influence local governance and maintain accountability among elected officials.

The Importance of Recalls in Democracy

Recalls serve as a crucial check on political power, ensuring that elected officials remain responsive to their constituents’ needs and concerns. This mechanism empowers citizens to take action when they believe their representatives are not fulfilling their duties effectively. In Los Banos, the recall effort is a testament to the community’s active engagement in local politics and their dedication to maintaining a functional and accountable government.

The broader significance of the recall effort reflects the aspirations of many residents who are advocating for greater transparency, accountability, and effective governance. The community’s commitment to these principles underscores the importance of civic participation and the power of collective action in shaping local governance.

Community Response and Future Implications

The recall effort has garnered significant attention and support from various segments of the community. Business owners and residents have voiced their frustrations over the current council’s decisions, particularly regarding financial management and transparency. Long-time resident and developer Greg Hostetler has been particularly vocal, criticizing the council’s handling of city funds and the decision to rehire Pinheiro as reckless and inefficient.

This groundswell of support for the recall effort indicates a broader desire for change within the community. As the November election approaches, residents are rallying together to ensure their voices are heard and their concerns addressed. The recall effort has also prompted discussions about the need for more robust oversight and accountability mechanisms within the city’s governance structure. This collective action highlights the community’s commitment to fostering a transparent and responsible local government.

Looking Ahead: A Path to Renewed Governance

As Los Banos navigates this period of political upheaval, it is essential to recognize the positive aspects of this recall effort. This movement is not merely a reaction to specific grievances but a broader exercise in democratic participation. It highlights the community’s commitment to ensuring that their government operates with integrity, transparency, and responsiveness.

The recall effort also serves as a reminder of the power that citizens hold in a democracy. By actively engaging in the political process, residents of Los Banos are setting a precedent for future generations, demonstrating that accountability and good governance are paramount.

In the coming months, as the recall campaign progresses and the November election draws nearer, it will be crucial for all parties involved to engage in open and constructive dialogue. This period of reflection and action presents an opportunity for the community to come together, address underlying issues, and chart a course towards a more effective and representative government.


The recall effort in Los Banos is a significant moment in the city’s history, reflecting the community’s dedication to democratic principles and accountability. As residents mobilize to hold their elected officials accountable, they are reinforcing the foundational values of transparency, integrity, and public service that are essential to effective governance.

In this democratic exercise, the people of Los Banos are not only advocating for change but also setting an example of civic engagement and responsibility. The outcome of this recall effort will undoubtedly shape the future of the city’s political landscape, but more importantly, it will affirm the community’s commitment to ensuring that their government truly represents and serves their interests.

For more information and updates on the recall effort, visit the official City of Los Banos recall petition page and stay informed through local news outlets such as The Westside Express​ (City of Los Banos)​​ (Westside Express)​​.

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