Kamena has opponent in recall election
By Richard Halstead © 3/9/01 Marin Independent Journal

Marin voters will have a choice between two candidates when they cast their ballots in the May 22 special recall election.

Thomas Van Zandt, a 37-year-old Mill Valley patent lawyer, filed papers yesterday to appear on the recall ballot as the alternative to District Attorney Paula Kamena.

Van Zandt is the brother of Carol Mardeusz, the Novato woman whose child custody case sparked the recall effort against Kamena and four Marin County Superior Court judges.

Van Zandt has not returned telephone calls from the Marin Independent Journal seeking comment about his candidacy, but in a statement filed with elections officials he wrote, "We need a county government we can have confidence in.

"We cannot have confidence in local government when allegations of gross abuse by elected officials remain uninvestigated."

Van Zandt, who paid a $1,435 filing fee on Monday, submitted 90 signatures in support of this candidacy yesterday. Marin County election clerk Yvonne Guenza said she confirmed that he has met the minimum requirement of signatures from 20 registered Marin voters.

Kamena reacted to the news by saying, "I'm sorry for our office and my family and for the community that this is happening."

The special recall election will cost Marin taxpayers about $500,000.

She added, "I will be even sorrier if a patent attorney admitted to the California bar in 1998 becomes the district attorney of this county. And I'm still waiting for the proponents to file financial disclosure forms as required by the law."

Van Zandt's candidacy is supported by Lynnette Shaw, founding director of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax, who spearheaded the call for Kamena's removal.

"He asked for my endorsement yesterday. We talked and I agreed to endorse him," said Shaw, who has objected to Kamena's approach to enforcing marijuana laws.

Shaw previously said she had no intention of supplying information on who supplied the money to pay professional signature gathers on recall petitions.

Yesterday, however, Shaw said she is preparing to submit the data within the next few days. A spokesman from the state Fair Political Practices Commission has said the recall petitioners were required to file such information.

Although Shaw's criticism of Kamena focused on her marijuana policies, the recall petition signed by 13,942 Marin registered voters did not address marijuana.

The petition accused the district attorney of acting in a criminal conspiracy by prosecuting Mardeusz for attempting to abduct her own daughter and for committing perjury.

In July, a Marin jury convicted Mardeusz of five felonies and two misdemeanors, after deliberating for less than a day. She is serving a nine-month sentence in the Marin County Jail.

Another recall deadline - for submitting the signatures necessary to recall Superior Court Judge Verna Adams - expired yesterday, virtually unnoticed. No signatures were submitted, Guenza said.

Adams was one of four Marin judges, along with Kamena, who had recall petitions taken out against them by a group upset about child custody case rulings.