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Judge: Recall petition against council member can proceed

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 16, 2020

Associated Press

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A King County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that a recall petition seeking to remove Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant from office can proceed.

Judge Jim Rogers found four of the six charges leveled against Sawant to be both specific enough and sufficient to permit the process to continue, The Seattle Times reported. It’s the second politically charged recall effort against a Seattle elected official amid mass protests against police violence and systemic racism.

“The petitioner has shown actual knowledge of facts indicating that the Councilmember intended to commit an unlawful act,” Rogers wrote in his order.

A group of Seattle residents is pushing for the Sawant recall, alleging violations including when she allowed demonstrators into City Hall during a nighttime protest in June and spoke at a protest in front of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house. They also say she encouraged protesters to occupy Seattle Police’s East Precinct, “helped create the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest Zone,” used city resources to promote a ballot initiative and delegated employment decisions in her office to her political party.

Rogers dismissed the charges related to the East Precinct and the CHOP.

Rogers’ role is to assume the charges against Sawant are true and to determine whether they are specific and serious enough to merit a recall.

Dmitri Iglitzin, Sawant’s attorney, said in arguments that Sawant has been elected three times, most recently less than a year ago, and said the recall petitioners were trying to redo those elections because they disagree with her politics.

John McKay, an attorney representing recall petitioner Ernest Lou, said Sawant needed to be held accountable for her actions.

If Rogers’ decision survives a possible appeal, petitioners would need to collect more than 10,000 signatures from residents of Sawant’s Capitol Hill-based district in order to send the recall to voters.

The Seattle City Council voted on Tuesday, at Sawant’s request, to fund Sawant’s legal defense in the matter.

A King County judge earlier this summer allowed a recall effort against the mayor to move forward. The recall alleges that Durkan failed to institute policies after police used tear gas on protesters. Durkan is appealing the judge’s decision to the state Supreme Court, which is scheduled to consider the case in October.

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