Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Takes Recall Battle to Washington Supreme Court

August 14, 2020 Updated: August 14, 2020

Seattle’s embattled mayor late Thursday filed an appeal to Washington’s Supreme Court, asking it to intervene in an effort to recall her.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, “respectfully seeks review” of two previous decisions by King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts, lawyers representing her wrote in the filing.

Roberts twice in recent weeks let a petition seeking to recall Durkan move forward, though she dismissed six of the seven charges filed against the mayor.

Petitioners say Durkan endangered the city by repeatedly violating her duties under state law, including when she “wrongfully disallowed” property rights by permitting occupiers to take over a section of Seattle in June before finally ordering the occupation cleared after several deadly shootings.

Petitioners also took issue with the mayor’s handling of law enforcement, accusing her of “allowing police to leak false information,” failing to implement new policies when officers used crowd control measures during a public health emergency, and failing to enforce compliance with municipal codes when officers “deliberately attacked members of the press.”

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Seattle police take over and re-enter the East Precinct after the area around the police station was occupied for the last month, on July 1, 2020. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

The petitioners filed a cross-appeal to the state Supreme Court later Thursday, asking justices to review Roberts’ decision to dismiss some of the other charges.

A spokesperson for Durkan told The Epoch Times in an email that the mayor “has consistently acted to protect the public health and safety of residents during the pandemic, economic devastation, and demonstrations for justice.”

“As her counsel challenges the legality of this petition, the Mayor will remain focused on how to provide support for small businesses and workers who have lost their jobs, preparing the City’s 2021 budget, slowing the spread of COVID-19, and working to transform policing and community safety,” the spokesperson added.

In a statement in July, petitioner Elliott Harvey wrote, “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.”

Roberts, who was appointed by former Democrat Gov. Gary Locke, blocked Durkan’s motion for reconsideration late last month.

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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best holds a news conference inside the CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) area in Seattle, Wash., on June 29, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

“The gravamen of the court’s ruling as summarized above is more broadly the alleged failure to protect the health and well-being of the community. The critical role of the Chief of Police in commanding her department does not vitiate the Mayor’s obligations,” Roberts wrote.

The mayor had argued that the chief of police, not her, was responsible for enforcing police department policies.

Washington’s Constitution says a public official can be recalled if he or she “has committed an act or acts of malfeasance, or an act or acts of misfeasance while in office, or has violated the oath of office.”

Petitioners need to gather approximately 54,000 signatures by January 6, 2021, according to local news outlets, to get a recall election on the ballot.

The filing and counter-filing followed Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best resigning a day after the City Council voted to cut funding to the city’s police department.

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