Seattle Mayor Durkan challenges judge’s ruling on recall petition
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan filed a motion Wednesday, calling on a judge to reconsider a ruling made last week that will allow a recall petition to move forward into the signature-gathering phase.
The ruling from a King County judge last Friday struck down six of seven assertions made in the petition, upholding the one that alleged the mayor had failed to take action regarding extreme crowd control measures — including the use of tear gas — employed by police during protests that took place in downtown Seattle and on Capitol Hill.
As first reported by SCC Insight, Durkan’s lawyer asserted that as mayor, she had “no legal or constitutional duty to prescribe policies and procedures for SPD,” and that it would have violated the department’s ongoing consent decree for her to unilaterally enact crowd control policies “without court approval.”
The use of crowd control weapons by SPD did eventually culminate in a court decision — in mid-June, a lawsuit brought by a local Black Lives Matter group saw a U.S. District judge order SPD to halt the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and more, unless it’s part of a “reasonable, proportional, and targeted action to protect against a specific imminent threat of physical harm … or to respond to specific acts of violence or destruction of property.” A full ban enacted by city council goes into effect on July 26.
Petitioners for the mayor’s recall will be given the opportunity to respond to Durkan’s motion sometime this week. If the motion is rejected, the recall effort will continue to move forward into the signature gathering phase.
If enough verified paper signatures are collected within a 180-day window — 25% of the total votes cast in the last mayoral election, totaling just over 56,000 — 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.
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.