California city council member no longer facing recall — though pending DUI case lingers

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Kingsburg Councilmember Jewel Hurtado had an eventful Friday as she learned the recall effort against her failed to collect enough valid signatures.

The same day she also entered not guilty pleas to two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.

Hurtado, 22, has previously apologized for her drunk driving incident.

“I made a mistake and I am sorry. I’m taking responsibility for my actions and waiting for my day in front of a judge. I trust that they will make the right decision,” she said in July.

She was arrested on suspicion of DUI on June 21. She admitted to consuming an alcoholic beverage prior to getting behind the wheel and agreed to take a breath test at the scene, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s report.

She was charged with one count of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol.

She was also given a speeding ticket for driving over the speed limit of 65 mph.

Hurtado declined to comment on her DUI charges Friday. Her lawyer is Robert Lamanuzzi and a pre-trial date is set for Jan. 1.

The councilmember was more eager to talk about the failed effort to recall her.

Hurtado, who has become an outspoken voice in the community, fought for the City Council to recognize Pride Month in Kingsburg. Her plea to her fellow council members failed, and also ignited opposition against her.

Those opposed to her politics launched a recall effort to oust her from the council.

On Friday, James Kus, Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, notified the proponents of the recall and the city of Kingsburg “that the petition for the recall of Jewel Hurtado has been found insufficient.”

Kus explained that the proponents needed 354 valid signatures from registered voters within Councilwoman Hurtado’s district. They turned in 423 signatures of which 310 were found to be valid registered voters within the district.

Hurtado issued a statement about the recall.

“I’m glad to learn that Kingsburg tax payers will not be forced to waste $90,000 in a special election to remove me from office. I will continue to do the work that I was elected to do and serve the city that I love for the remainder of my term,” she said.

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