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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, chop, protest freeway
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Petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan clears first hurdle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A Friday ruling from a King County judge will allow a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Durkan to move forward with the signature-gathering process.

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This marks the first major hurdle any such petition needs to clear. The campaign alleges Mayor Durkan “endangered the peace and safety of the community” during recent protests over the death of George Floyd, citing her institution of a curfew, a “failure to institute new policies and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department when using crowd control measures during a public health emergency,” and more.

In the King County judge’s ruling, six of the seven charges levied against Durkan were dismissed, with the allegation regarding the use of crowd control measures allowed to move forward “more narrowly than alleged.” Durkan’s office can appeal the ruling, but has not expressed whether or not it will.

Petitioners now have 180 days to gather verified paper signatures totaling 25% of votes cast in the last mayoral election. Just under 225,000 ballots were case in the 2017 election between Durkan and challenger Cary Moon. That means the recall petition will need to collect over 56,000 signatures.

If enough signatures are collected within that 180 day window — and the City Clerk’s office and King County Elections can verify them — King County Elections will set a date for a special election between 45 and 90 days after certification, preferably on an already-scheduled election day.

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That special election would be a binary “yes” or “no” vote to vacate the mayor’s position. Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez would then step in as acting mayor, resigning her council seat if she accepts the position. Another special election would be scheduled to select a new permanent mayor.

In recent months, at least three Seattle councilmembers — Teresa Mosqueda, Tammy Morales, and Kshama Sawant — have called for Durkan’s resignation. The mayor has insisted she does not intend to step down; she is up for official reelection in 2021.

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