Judge denies Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's bid to kill election recall petition against her
A King County Superior Court judge on Wednesday doubled down on a decision earlier this month to allow an election recall petition against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to proceed.
The petition is aimed at removing Durkan from office. It comes in response to the Seattle Police Department's use of tear gas and other crowd control weapons against protesters amid ongoing civil rights demonstrations.
Judge Mary E. Roberts on July 10 ruled that the recall petition could move forward, on the basis of a "factually and legally sufficient" accusation that Durkan failed to intervene in Seattle police's use of chemical irritants against protesters. Roberts, however, threw out six other charges brought forth by the petitioners.
Durkan on July 14 filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its stance, maintaining that decisions surrounding the Seattle Police Department's policies and procedures would fall on the shoulders of the Police Chief Carmen Best — not the mayor — under the city's charter.
Durkan's motion further argues that "her discretionary decision not to overrule or usurp all or part of the Chief's authority cannot be a basis for recall, particularly in the midst of a dynamic week of protests public safety issues, and unrest."
Roberts, in her response on Wednesday, wrote that "The critical role of the Chief of Police in commanding her department does not vitiate the Mayor's obligations," and asserted that the limited role of the court "is to assume that the Recall Petitioners' allegations are true, and to determine whether if true, they can support a recall."
The judge characterized the petitioners' charge as an "alleged failure to protect the health and well-being of the community."
The recall petition would need to garner more than 50,000 signatures within 180 days in order to forge ahead. If the petition prompts a special election and voters opt to boot Durkan from her seat, City Council President Lorena González would temporarily act as mayor.
Durkan told KUOW's The Record on July 15 that "if at some point down the road the voters decide they don't want me to be mayor, that's democracy. And in the meantime, I'm not focused on court actions or petitions — I'm focused on the fact that we are in unprecedented waters in our city."
Durkan in February registered her campaign for re-election in 2021.
Read Judge Roberts' latest ruling below: