The effort to recall controversial Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero has failed.

County elections officials reported Friday there were not enough valid signatures submitted to place a recall before voters. Proponents of the recall needed 7,026 valid signatures from registered voters to place the recall on the ballot. They submitted nearly 7,800 signatures but about 2,000 were invalid.

Rivero said he wasn't surprised by the failure and had never wasted his time worrying about or fighting the recall.

"That's what I figured. This thing was never hanging over my head," Rivero said.

He said the failed recall shows he has widespread support in the community for his battle against illegal drugs and corruption.

"I'm happy I have the backing of the little guy in my fight against the corruption in Lake County," said Rivero, who counts the district attorney and some county supervisors as among the corrupt.

His opponents say they don't see the recall's shortfall as a failure.

"I am very proud of the fact that over 7,000 Lake County residents signed petitions to remove the incumbent sheriff. This clearly demonstrates that Mr. Rivero's days as sheriff are numbered," Brian Martin, a former Sheriff's lieutenant and candidate to replace Rivero, said in a prepared statement.

It's time to end the embarrassment and expense Sheriff Rivero has generated, he said.

Rivero has been in frequent skirmishes on many fronts during his three years as sheriff.

They include legal battles with his employees, a local newspaper, and other county officials and departments. He is currently under a court order to provide Lakeport police with access to a computerized criminal database; has been placed on a list of unreliable trial witnesses; and caused a criminal case to be dismissed for allegedly violating a marijuana grower's Miranda rights.

The recall petition alleged he's been unethical and dishonest, and that he's alienated "every law enforcement agency in the county as well as the entire Board of Supervisors." The board in March asked for his resignation.

Rivero has steadfastly denied the allegations against him. He said his critics are determined to stop his efforts to rid the county of crime and an entrenched, corrupt good-old-boy network.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or