Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan can’t be feeling terribly popular these days. No matter what she does (or in most cases, what she doesn’t do), people seem to be upset with her. Some of her city’s residents are so fed up that they’ve kicked off an effort to recall her from office. Well, there are multiple efforts, actually, but only one of them has made significant progress. That recall effort was challenged in court by the Mayor, but on Friday a Superior Court judge ruled that the recall effort can move forward, though only one of the original accusations was approved. (Associated Press)
A King County Superior Court judge has approved a petition for an election to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The Seattle Times reports the ruling Friday on charges filed by a group of five people last month comes after weeks of local protests against racism and police brutality — sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Once any recall petition is approved, signatures are needed to qualify for a special election ballot. The petitioners must, within 180 days, collect valid signatures from a number of voters equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last election. In this case, signatures from more than 50,000 Seattle voters would be needed.
As I mentioned above, there are multiple groups trying to remove the Mayor from office, but looking at the charges in this petition it’s fairly obvious which group is pushing it, and it’s the BLM protesters and Antifa.
The charges against the Mayor that were rejected include “endanger(ing) the peace and safety of the community by allowing police to leak false information about fabricated crimes and threats to the media and issuing a citywide curfew without sufficient notice to the public.” These are the complaints of individuals who were being affected by the scant efforts Durkan allowed the police to make to keep the mob under control.
The charge that the judge allowed to stand involved “allowing tear gas and other crowd-control weapons to be used.” That is similarly the sort of complaint you would expect to come from the rioters. It also mirrors one of two Change.org petitions to recall the Mayor. This one calls out the Mayor for “allow(ing) the Seattle Police Department to use chemical warfare against us, the residents of Seattle.”
At the same time, there is a far better-formulated petition that calls out the Mayor for failing to keep the city safe and not protecting citizens from violence, among other things. And they don’t just want to recall the Mayor. They want the entire City Council removed. Here are some of their complaints.
Failure to uphold public safety and sanitation.
Failure to uphold oath of office
Failure to make the city business friendly
Regressive taxes that hurt poor people.
Allowing an illegal occupation of taxpayer land
Allowing a dangerous environment and allowing murder.
These are the complaints of the business owners and citizens who have suffered at the hands of the rioters, seeing deaths, injuries and massive property damage. The petition goes on to note that the police have stopped enforcing federal drug laws, turning the city into an open-air illegal drug market, fostering an environment of violence and crime.
Will either of these efforts bear fruit? The two groups are coming at the situation from diametrically opposing points of view. One says that the Mayor has done too little to control the rioting and violence while the other absurdly complains that she’s done too much. But their end goal is the same. It’s not hard to imagine that those collecting the required 50,000 plus signatures could approach residents from either camp and simply say, “would you like to sign and help recall the mayor?” No matter what’s motivating them, they’ll probably sign.
If they succeed in getting the required signatures within six months, the city will move on to a recall election. But if Durkan is recalled, what sort of platform will her replacements adopt? Whether they crack down on the violence or become even laxer in handling the riots, somebody is going to be unhappy.