After Newsom defeats recall election, Sac State students share how they voted


Jennah Booth

From left to right: Sacramento State students Thomas Clark, Becky Arreola, Kelsey Huffaker, Brittany Gomez and Sean Valiquette share how they voted in the 2021 gubernatorial recall election. California voters overwhelmingly rejected the recall with 62.7% voting no as of the time of publication, and many Sacramento State students followed suit. Graphic made in Canva by Jennah Booth.

Jennah Booth

California Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated a recall attempt on Sept. 14 in an election which was called less than an hour after polls closed. California voters overwhelmingly rejected the recall with 62.7% voting no as of the time of publication, and many Sacramento State students followed suit.

Sean Valiquette, political science major, said he voted against the recall because he agrees with Newsom’s policies. 

“I like him,” Valiquette said. “I really think he is taking charge of the state in a way that identifies with our values. He has what California needs on his mind.” 

While many students voted to keep Newsom in office, some supported the recall efforts and voted to have him replaced. 

Both Teagan Skaff, a psychology major, and Gabriel De La Torre, a business administration major with a focus in finance, voted to recall Newsom and chose Larry Elder as their replacement candidate. 

“I find [Newsom] to probably be one of the worst governors we’ve ever had,” Skaff said. “He is a hypocrite on his own COVID policies, as well as I don’t find his handling of the state’s economics to be competent.”

Skaff said he voted to recall because he believes the state should be doing more to support mental health services and hospitals, as well as fire prevention. De La Torre said he disagrees with Newsom’s policies on the housing crisis and land use. 

Neither Skaff nor De La Torre said they were surprised by the election results.

“I do believe Larry Elder’s radical position incentivized people to vote for Gavin Newsom and keep him in office,” De La Torre said. “I do not believe he will change due to the fact that he won by a radical amount and defeated the recall very swiftly.”

Skaff said he would vote for Elder again next year, but De La Torre said he was deterred by some of Elder’s statements after he had already mailed in his ballot and that he will refrain from voting too early next election. 

RELATED: The State Hornet Voter Guide 2021: California Recall Edition 

While California voters sided against the recall and voted to keep Newsom in office, many students say their vote wasn’t necessarily cast in favor of Newsom himself. 

Becky Arreola, biology major, and Brittany Gomez, criminal justice major, both said they voted against the recall because Newsom was a better option than the front-running replacement candidates. 

“He was the least horrible out of all of them,” Arreola said. 

Gomez said that while she voted to keep Newsom in office, she wasn’t exactly happy with the way he handled the pandemic. 

Newsom’s coronavirus policies have been heavily criticized as well as praised over the last 18 months. His handling of the pandemic is one of the factors which fueled the republican-led recall attempt. 

“I thought it was best to keep him there,” Gomez said. “I didn’t want anyone else to go back into office, Republicans mostly. I want to see more input and work on the pandemic. I mean he’s been doing some, but I think he should be doing more.”

It was a circus, and it’s a circus now. It’s not anything that’s for the good of the state.”

— Sean Valiquette

Thomas Clark, a student in the post-graduate teaching credential program, voted to keep Newsom in office but wasn’t overly excited about him as governor.

Clark said while Newsom could do better in other areas like unemployment policies and fire prevention, he should not be criticized for his pandemic policies. 

“If he [Newsom] didn’t get reelected [Larry Elder] was going to want to get rid of mask mandates and vaccine mandates and everything,” Clark said. “I think that’s probably not a great idea because it’s going to make us slide back into having a lot of surges.”

Kelsey Huffaker, a criminal justice major who also voted against the recall, said they’re not sure what to expect from Newsom in the next year. Huffaker, along with many students, expressed that they had trouble researching the overwhelming 46 replacement candidates on the ballot. 

The subject of amending the recall election process in California has been at the forefront of conversation since Sept. 14, many arguing that the process is too easy and the bar to enter as a replacement is too low.

Valiquette said he definitely thinks it should be harder for candidates to enter recall elections and that the mindset that put the process in place no longer works in a deeply divided political climate. 

“I remember when Gray Davis was recalled,” Valiquette said. “It was a circus, and it’s a circus now. It’s not anything that’s for the good of the state.”

In 2003, former California governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger only 11 months after he was elected to his second term. 

Huffaker said they were equally jaded about the recall process. 

“I figure it’s a bad situation no matter what you do,” they said. “I kind of expected a little bit of incompetency from everybody, so I’m not surprised it didn’t go well.”

Going into the next year and the 2022 gubernatorial election, many students said they will be waiting to see who runs against Newsom before they decide how they will cast their vote.