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Recall Petition Allowed to Proceed Against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

— July 17, 2020

Judge Mary E. Roberts recently approved a petition to recall Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan.

Seattle residents frustrated by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s handling of the recent protests and riots are celebrating after a King County Superior Court judge approved a petition for an election to recall the mayor. Enthusiasm for a recall began gaining traction back when CHOP began taking over the city streets. The ruling was announced Friday. Once a recall petition is approved, organizers will have a set amount of time to gather enough signatures to qualify for a special election ballot. According to the ruling, the “petitioners must, within 180 days, collect valid signatures from a number of voters equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last election.” In total, more than 50,000 signatures from Seattle voters are needed.

Demonstrators destroying a police car in Seattle. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:marcoxu0109. (CCA-BY-4.0).

On social media, the movement to recall Durkan is known as the ‘Fire the Mayor’ campaign. The effort accuses the mayor “of endangering the peace and safety of the community by allowing police to leak false information about fabricated crimes and threats to the media and issuing a citywide curfew without sufficient notice to the public.” Additionally, the petitioners accused the mayor “of restricting certain property rights in downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where many of the protests took place.” When commenting on the movement and recall efforts, Elliott Harvey, one of the petitioners, said:

“Jenny Durkan’s abuses of power, lack of foresight, and failure to protect the public — and the peace — in Seattle leaves us with no choice. This is exactly the kind of case a recall is intended to address.”

How has Durkan responded to the recall petition? So far, Stephanie Formas, Durkan’s chief of staff, said the “mayor consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights to peaceful protesters and defended Police Chief Carmen Best, who Durkan believes has exercised her challenging duties lawfully and appropriately to protect the public peace.”

The ruling to approve the recall petition was handed down by Judge Mary E. Roberts. In the ruling, she noted that the court’s role in the case at the moment is limited. She wrote, “At this stage of a recall effort, the court is to assume that the Recall Petitioners’ allegations are true, and to determine whether if true, they can support a recall.”

In addition to the ruling, Roberts also approved the following ballot synopsis:

“As alleged by [the petitioners], shall Jenny Durkan be recalled from office for misfeasance, malfeasance, and violation of the oath of office, based on the following charge: Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under state and local laws and her oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions when she failed to institute new policies and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department after learning of the use of chemical agents on peaceful protesters as a means of crowd control during a public health emergency.”

If petitioners are able to gather enough signatures and all those signatures are verified and approved, “a judge will set a special election to be held between 45 and 90 days after the signatures are certified.” According to law, the special election should “be held on a scheduled election or special election day when possible, and prohibits it from being held between a primary and general election.”


Petition for election to recall Mayor Jenny Durkan can move forward, judge says

Judge rules petition to recall Seattle mayor can move forward

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