Civil grand jury says Riverbank councilman should be ousted

The Stanislaus County Civil Grand jury says Councilman Jesse James White should be removed from office. A grand jury investigation found that White, 20, was not a registered voter when he filled out candidacy papers to run in last November’s election. The report says the city should invalidate the election. White is the grandson of sitting councilman Dave White.

The report also found that Riverbank’s city clerk failed to verify the accuracy of information on election documents.

Both Jesse James White and Dave White are the subject of a recall effort.

White has been a controversial figure since his election last November. Former mayor David I. White, who’s not related to Dave White or Jesse James White, was on the ballot too. Critics say voters were confused and didn’t know which White they were voting for. David I. White finished first, and Jesse James White finished second out of five candidates. Jesse James White won 24.6 percent of the vote, or 2,232 votes. At age 19, he beat out two former council members.

White is grandson of sitting council member Dave White, 70, a former mayor who’s served on the council on-and-off since before Jesse James White was born.

As a candidate, he said he would create a weekly senior lunch program. Critics charge that he’s made no move to do that. Recall organizers have also attacked White as unfit for office because he lacks “moral character.” White was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2007, according to court records. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of “wet and reckless” driving. He was sentenced to three years of informal probation and a six-week education program.

Jesse James White has argued that offense doesn’t disqualify him from a council seat. “You can be on probation for getting a speeding ticket,” White told the Bee in April. “So if you’re going to count out everybody who’s on that list, then no one would get to run.”

Critics say two members of the same family on the council mean Riverbank is deprived of independent votes. Family members in politics isn’t unheard of, of course. Locally, Atwater voters elected Joe Rivero, son of sitting councilman Joe Rivero, last November. The elder Rivero passed away a few days after the election. Voters then chose Jeff Rivero, another son of Joe Rivero’s, in a special election.