Washington Supreme Court schedules sheriff recall appeal for September 10

Two efforts to recall Adam Fortney from his position as sheriff of Snohomish County, Washington, have been approved to circulate petitions. The efforts began after Fortney announced on Facebook in April 2020 that his office would not enforce restrictions Gov. Jay Inslee (D) set in place in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The first recall petition said that Fortney “used his position as an elected official to encourage citizens to defy the law and violate the Governor’s Emergency Proclamations.” The second recall petition said that Fortney had violated his oath of office.

The first recall petition was approved for circulation on May 15, 2020, and the second was approved for circulation on June 2, 2020. The two recall efforts had acted independently of each other as of June 22, 2020. Recall supporters must collect 44,494 signatures in six months to get the recall on the ballot.

In response to the recall efforts, Fortney said he stood by his statement that the sheriff’s department “will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights.” He filed a motion for the court to reconsider the decision approving the second recall petition for circulation, but the motion was rejected on June 12, 2020. Fortney appealed to the Washington Supreme Court on June 22, 2020. The court scheduled September 10, 2020, as the date to decide the appeal. If the court rejects the appeal, recall supporters of the second effort will be able to begin collecting signatures.

Fortney was elected sheriff on November 5, 2019, with 55% of the vote.

Additional reading:
Recall campaigns in Washington
Political recall efforts, 2020
County official recalls