Judge Green-Lights Petition To ‘Fire’ Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan; Mayor’s Office Defends Her Actions

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 26: A person holds a sign on their balcony as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan meets with protesters from the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) across the street at First African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 26, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Earlier in the morning, protesters resisted as city crews attempted to remove barriers at an entrance to CHOP. On Monday, Mayor Durkan said that the city would phase down the CHOP zone and that the Seattle Police Department would return to its vacated East Precinct. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
David Ryder/Getty Images

A Washington state judge has approved a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to move forward with collecting signatures.

King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts issued the ruling on Friday, granting the “Fire The Mayor” campaign 180 days to collect the over 50,000 signatures needed to recall Durkan.

“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,” said Elliott Harvey, the lead petitioner and the chair of the Committee to Recall Jenny Durkan. “This is exactly the kind of case a recall is intended to address.”

“Twenty years is a sufficient time frame to gain the hindsight needed to respect the legal rights and protections of the public,” Harvey added in a statement released by the campaign.

In order for a recall election to take place, the Fire The Mayor campaign must gather signatures equal to 25% of the total number of voters in the last mayoral election, which was nearly 225,000 votes. The campaign needs roughly 56,200 votes to trigger a recall election.

The campaign was launched by “a Capitol Hill-based organization of students, losers, lovers, bartenders, writers, artists, and fundraisers with BIPOC management, Wheelchair users, Deaf organizers, and LGBTQIA representation,” according to the campaign’s website.

In her ruling, Roberts threw out six of the seven charges the petitioners brought against Durkan, leaving one accusing the mayor of allowing police to use weapons such as tear gas against protesters amid the pandemic.

Protests and riots have rocked Seattle since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, while he was in custody by the Minneapolis Police Department. Durkan gave wide-latitude to activists for over a month in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district. The protesters took over several city blocks, including a police precinct, in an effort to “dismantle systemic racism,” as one leading activist described it.

Durkan’s chief of staff Stephanie Formas responded to the judge’s ruling on Saturday, saying that the mayor “consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights to peaceful protesters.” Formas added that Durkan believes Police Chief Carmen Best “has exercised her challenging duties lawfully and appropriately to protect the public peace,” according to The Seattle Times.

Durkan may appeal Roberts’ ruling, though the mayor’s office has not indicated whether it will do so.

Roberts also approved a ballot synopsis that reads: “As alleged by [the petitioners], shall Jenny Durkan be recalled from office for misfeasance, malfeasance, and violation of the oath of office, based on the following charge: Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under state and local laws and her oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions when she failed to institute new policies and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department after learning of the use of chemical agents on peaceful protesters as a means of crowd control during a public health emergency,” according to The Seattle Times.

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