Petition to recall Seattle Mayor Durkan awaits ruling from King County judge
The fate of a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is in the hands of a King County judge, now that both the mayor and the group behind the movement have submitted filings to the court.
The judge’s initial ruling had struck down six of seven assertions made in a petition from a group known as “Fire the Mayor,” 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 Capitol Hill.
The recall process was put on pause, though, after Durkan filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his ruling. Durkan’s lawyer asserted that the mayor has “no legal or constitutional duty to prescribe policies and procedures for SPD.” Fire the Mayor’s response filed Tuesday claims that the mayor has in fact “demonstrated that she has directive authority over the Seattle Police Department, and selectively uses that power only when it suits her.”
The court will now weigh the filings from both sides. If it rules in favor of the recall petition, that will start the clock on a 180-day signature gathering period. If enough verified paper signatures are collected within that 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.
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.