Dixon Recall Effort Fails; Magna Rep Pleased

A recall attempt in the town of Dixon – in part over Magna Entertainment Corporation plans to build Dixon Downs racetrack on the outskirts of the Northern California community – failed to attract enough signatures to qualify for the June 2006 ballot.

Mayor Mary Ann Courville and vice mayor Gil Vega were the targets of the recall movement for allegedly ignoring a 3% annual growth limit passed earlier by Dixon voters and for backing developers – including Magna and others – at the expense of citizen input, recall spokeswoman Gloriana Riddle said.

The recall backers were upset late last year when the City Council voted against placing the Dixon Downs proposal on the ballot for a binding referendum.

"The citizens of Dixon have spoken and sent a clear message to the current leadership that they have confidence in their ability to make decisions honestly and fairly," said Lorne Kumer, Magna Development's vice president of real estate, in a prepared statement. "We, of course, are pleased because based on public complaints made to the city and accounts reported in the media, recall organizers misrepresented the facts about our project in an effort to generate more signatures. Residents weren't fooled and have sent a message they are satisfied their council representatives can weigh the facts, listen to all sides, and make an informed decision."

Ada Preston, spokeswoman for Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth, the most vocal opponent of Dixon Downs, denied any connection to the recall.

"Well, that's his opinion, and he's entitled to that," she said of Kumer's statement. "We had absolutely nothing to do with the recall, and we couldn't be happier that it has failed to qualify. We look forward to working with our elected representatives on this. Dixon Downs is not a good fit for Dixon. We think the final environmental impact report will show that we are right about this."

Recall organizers were about 200 to 300 signatures shy of the required 1,806 – representing 25% of Dixon's registered voters – and decided not to submit the petitions about an hour prior to the 5 p.m. deadline on Feb. 6, according to the city clerk's office. Both Courville and Vega were elected to their posts in 2004.

MEC has been working since 2000 to get Dixon Downs approved by local government. The final environmental impact report for the $250 million state-of-the-art facility is expected to come before the Dixon planning commission later this month or in early March.