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Riverbank residents call for 2 to resign

RIVERBANK -- The battle over Riverbank's political future got personal Monday night, with residents confronting council members Jesse James White and Dave White, demanding that both resign.

As Boy Scouts watched from the audience, Riverbank's already tense atmosphere reached new heights. "Dave, you and Jesse James White have put this whole city in disrepute," resident Douglas Daniels said during the public comment period. "Dave, I ask you, for the good of the city, for you and Jesse James White to resign."

Dave White and Jesse James White have come under fire in the wake of a grand jury report that called for Jesse James White, who is Dave White's grandson, to step down. The grand jury's investigation found that Jesse James White violated election law because he was not registered to vote when he filled out his candidacy paperwork. The grand jury recommends that the city "invalidate" last fall's election and remove Jesse James White from office.

White and the city have more than a month to respond to the grand jury's findings. But residents at Monday night's meeting demanded action now.

Dotty Nygard, the leader of a recall effort against the Whites, made pointed reference to Jesse James White's recent public comments that residents should make their voices heard. Nygard said residents have spoken. "There are over 1,600 recall signatures asking you tonight to immediately remove yourself from office," she said.

The Whites listened calmly as residents confronted them. Dave White led Monday's meeting with a warning against outbursts and name-calling. "Your words can either build people up or tear people down," White said. "Reckless words can pierce like a sword."

Residents also confronted the Whites about fliers and petitions that have circulated supporting the Whites. Resident Pat McDonald said he was shocked when he saw a flier purporting to be about Neighborhood Watch that actually was an anti-recall flier. McDonald called on Jesse James White to "disavow" the flier. Jesse James White responded that he hadn't seen the flier but would "look into it."

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Jesse James White ended the meeting with a brief statement. "I will not step down without getting my due process rights," he said. "Serving the people of Riverbank is something I've wanted to do since I was little, and I won't give it up without that right."

About 50 people attended the meeting. Councilman Danny Fielder was absent.

The council had business to attend to as well. It approved the first step toward raising monthly sewer bills and OK'd a plan to make the city's ammunition plant part of Riverbank's redevelopment area.

The city's turmoil is likely to heat up over the summer. Monday was the first day for candidates in November's mayoral race to take out paperwork. Councilman Dave White took out papers. So did Lee Ulloa, who is a cousin of Jesse James White. Another man, Larry King, also signed up as a candidate. Candidates have until Aug. 7 to sign up.

If Ulloa joins the ballot, the November election won't be the first time members of the White clan have appeared on the same ballot. In 2004, Dave White's son-in-law Roger Cogswell and Ulloa ran for council seats; both lost.

Recall supporters have until Aug. 22 to gather 2,247 signatures supporting their effort. If they succeed, the city must hold an election.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378.

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