Washington State Supreme Court throws out Mayor Durkan recall petition

Oct 8, 2020, 4:20 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled Thursday to throw out a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, effectively ending a months-long battle over attempts to move into the signature-gathering phase.

The court unanimously ruled that “the recall charges presented in this case are factually and legally insufficient,” despite labeling the allegations laid out in the petition as “deeply troubling.”

The recall saga began in mid-July, when King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts initially allowed the petition to move into the signature-gathering phase, upholding an allegation that claimed the mayor had failed to take action regarding extreme crowd control measures used by Seattle police in early-June.

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Mayor Durkan then filed a motion asking Judge Roberts to reconsider, claiming her office had no legal duty to prescribe Seattle Police Department policies. Roberts denied that motion in July, before Durkan filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

The court reviewed written arguments in September from both Durkan’s attorneys and the group filing the petition. It eschewed oral arguments, after it opted to rule solely off of written briefs.

The state Supreme Court did not expand on its reasoning for throwing out the recall petition, but plans to file a longer opinion on its decision “in due course.”

Durkan released a statement on Thursday’s ruling, saying the following:

We are going through the toughest times our city has faced. Every family, worker, and small business is feeling the impacts. Our city deeply needs for all of us to set aside the rancor and come together to address the unprecedented challenges we face like the COVID-19 pandemic, re-imagining policing, addressing systemic racism and making investments in BIPOC communities, and helping our small businesses and residents struggling in an economic crisis.

As Mayor, my job is to listen to all points of view, including those who disagree with me, and to bring people together to deliver solutions to our hardest problems. These problems have no easy answers and cannot be solved by slogans. I am proud of the progressive actions we’ve taken together, including our strong response to COVID-19, $1.5 billion in new affordable housing, free college for our young people, protections for domestic workers and rideshare drivers, and forging a path to lead the nation on addressing systemic racial inequity and changing policing. I will continue to focus my energy on the residents every day that I have the honor of serving as Seattle’s Mayor.

The court will likely soon consider a ruling on a separate recall effort, with Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant submitting an appeal Thursday of a petition similarly approved by a King County judge in September.

Durkan is up for reelection in November of 2021.

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