Recall petition filed against Seattle City Councilwoman Sawant

On August 18, a formal recall petition was filed with the King County Elections Office against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Sawant was first elected to the council to represent District 3 in 2013, when she defeated then-incumbent Richard Conlin by 3,151 votes. She won re-election to the seat in 2019.

The recall petition was filed by District 3 resident Ernest “Ernie” Lou on behalf of the Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee. The Washington Constitution requires that recall petitioners establish grounds for a recall, specifically that the targeted public official has engaged in the “commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.” Lou’s petition alleges six specific grounds against Kshama, including: relinquishing the authority of her office; misusing city resources; misusing her official position; using her council position to encourage rally protestors to illegally occupy city property; using her position to lead a march to the Seattle mayor’s private residence; and creating a criminal toxic environment around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone. At the time of publication, Sawant had not responded to the allegations.

The King County Elections Office must turn over the petition to the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office for review. A judge will then decide if the allegations meet the constitutional standard for a recall. If at least one of the allegations is deemed to meet the standard, the petition will move to the signature-gathering phase, and petitioners will be required to collect signatures from over 10,700 registered voters, equal to 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:
Kshama Sawant
Laws governing recall in Washington