Washington Supreme Court approves sheriff recall petition for circulation

The Washington Supreme Court ruled on November 6, 2020, that a recall effort seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff could begin circulating petitions. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram initially approved the recall petition on August 20, but Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the state supreme court. 

The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Hatcher said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures in six months to get the recall on the ballot. The number of signatures is equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election.

Two other sheriff recall efforts have been appealed to the Washington Supreme Court in 2020. The court ruled that a recall effort against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney could begin circulating petitions on September 10, and it is scheduled to hear the appeal of Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza in December 2020.

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.

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