Nearly 90% of voters decided to recall Solvang City Council member Chris Djernaes.
That’s perhaps one of the highest percentages in a successful California recall election.
As of Wednesday, the tally was 87%, or 2,372 votes, in favor of the recall. There were 356 votes opposed.
While these are preliminary election results, it is likely the recall will stand.
Replacing Mr. Djernaes is likely to be Jim Thomas, who received 1,851 votes over his opponent, Jamie Baker, who received 753 votes.
Mr. Thomas will then serve the remaining two years of Mr. Djernaes’s term. The new council members will be seated Dec. 14.
“This just disqualifies him from the current seat,” Xenia Bradford, the Solvang city manager, told the News-Press. “If he’s recalled, he doesn’t get to serve the remainder of the two years of his original four-year term.”
Technically, Mr. Djernaes could run for Solvang City Council again in 2022, according to Ms. Bradford. However, it is unclear whether he will do so.
The petition leading to his recall accused Mr. Djernaes of contempt of the Brown Act; violation of ethics; disrespect of constituents, speakers, voters and current and former City Council members; defamation of organizations and individuals; and harassment of employees of the city of Solvang.
Lammy Johnstone was one of the leaders of the effort to recall Mr. Djernaes. She’s lived in the city of Solvang and the unincorporated areas for a combined 44 years.
“A recall is when somebody elected to office does not abide by that which he or she promised to do,” Ms. Johnstone told the News-Press. “It was certain Chris Djernaes not only blew his so-called ‘vows,’ but if you lived up here, you would understand what he did to the people in our community.”
She said the overwhelming number of votes to recall him “says a lot about the city of Solvang.”
“All of us, whether we be independents, Democrats, Republicans, right, left, whatever — when it comes to our community, we all come together,” Ms. Johnstone said. “That’s what the recall was all about.”
She said she wonders “whether or not he has the audacity to show up” at the next council meeting.
Ms. Johnstone said if he does, she doesn’t know what he’ll do, but, “at the end of the meeting, he’ll probably make his last hurrah, which will be interesting — very, very interesting.”
“You were elected to office. That’s a privilege given to you by your constituents,” she said. “When you’re elected into office, you have to be honorable. You have to be polite.
“Chris Djernaes is a person you can find on YouTube because of his obnoxious antics as a representative of this city, and that reflected on all 5,400 of us,” she concluded. “He’s not going to be a very liked person here in Solvang.”
In an interview with the News-Press in June, Mr. Djernaes referred to the residents’ complaints as “specious accusations” and denied proof of any of the allegations.
He didn’t respond to the News-Press’ request for comment after the election results were tabulated.