Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Asks Washington Supreme Court to Stop Recall Effort

Seattle's Jenny Durkan on Aug. 31 filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to halt a recall effort against her, arguing that she hadn’t violated any law.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Asks Washington Supreme Court to Stop Recall Effort
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference about the COVID-19 outbreak in Seattle, Washington, on March 16, 2020. (Elaine Thompson, Pool/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Aug. 31 filed a petition asking Washington’s Supreme Court to halt a recall effort against her, arguing that she hasn’t violated any law or standard, and that it is based on a policy disagreement.

Attorneys for Durkan, a Democrat, say that the petitioners leading the recall haven’t identified what steps the embattled mayor should have taken in the wake of June’s widespread protests.

In her appeal filed Monday, Durkan raised several of the same arguments she previously made in King County Superior Court, where Judge Mary Roberts let the petition seeking to recall Durkan move forward twice in recent weeks. The mayor, however, added some new arguments.

“Following the most widespread civil unrest Seattle has seen in decades, petitioners submitted, and the trial court approved, a charge that Mayor Durkan 'failed to institute new policies and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department' with regard to the use of chemical crowd control measures,” the mayor’s lawyers, Rebecca Roe and William Shaw, wrote in the filing.

“Remarkably, neither petitioners nor the trial court identified the particular 'policies and safety measures' Mayor Durkan had a duty to implement, but failed to enact.”

“There is no evidence that any discretionary decision Mayor Durkan made in the midst of multiple ongoing civil emergencies was manifestly unreasonable,” attorneys Roe and Shaw wrote.

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.”

A spokesperson for Durkan told The Epoch Times in an email last month 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.

Roe and Shaw argued that if the recall effort is allowed to move forward, it would “chill the discretionary authority of public officials across the political spectrum.”

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear Durkan’s appeal, but there will be no oral arguments. All filings and arguments are due by Sept. 22, and the court is tentatively scheduled to discuss the case in private Oct. 8.

If Durkan’s appeal is rejected and the recall effort proceeds, petitioners would need to gather approximately 54,000 signatures from Seattle voters by Jan. 6, 2021, according to local news outlets, to get a recall election on the ballot.

Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.