CategoryLocal

Austin police staffing minimum and training requirements initiative qualifies for the ballot

On Tuesday, the Austin city clerk announced that the group Save Austin Now submitted enough valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

The initiative would:

  • establish a minimum police department staffing requirement based on the population of the city, which would require the city to hire additional police officers;
  • state that the police chief should seek demographic representation in hiring police officers;
  • add additional required training time for police officers; and
  • add new requirements for serving on the city’s Public Safety Commission.

In Austin, initiative petitioners must gather 20,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot. The requirement is based on 5% of the qualified voters in the city but is capped at 20,000. If petitioners collect enough signatures, their initiative is sent to the city council, which must either approve the initiative or put it on the ballot for the next allowable election date.

On July 19, Save Austin Now submitted 27,778 signatures for the initiative. On Aug. 3, the clerk’s office announced that a sampling of a quarter of the submitted signatures projected 25,786 valid signatures, 5,786 more than the minimum requirement. The city council has ten days to approve the ordinance itself or to put the initiative on the ballot. The deadline for the city council to put the initiative on the Nov. 2, 2021, ballot is Aug. 16.

Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party and co-founder of Save Austin Now, said, “Steve Adler, Greg Casar, Equity PAC and associated extreme groups will attempt to smear this effort for the next three months. They do not care about public safety and want to watch Austin burn. We will not let them. We will educate citizens about how our police budget was defunded, how police staffing has become a crisis, and about how a violent crime wave has resulted. We can fix this mess created by a unanimous vote of the City Council in August 2020. Austin must rise up and demand a safe city for every neighborhood.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “Directing the City Council to hire additional police officers at this time could result in layoffs in other departments. We also need more public health professionals, firefighters, park rangers, and EMS to keep our community safe.”

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said, “George Floyd was killed one year ago, and instead of working on police reform, this group is fear-mongering and trying to avoid police accountability. Their petition drive is about writing a blank check of taxpayer funds to their own department, while cutting off funds for all our other public employees and critical public safety needs. This petition goes directly against what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about.”

Save Austin Now also sponsored Proposition B (May 2021), which made it a criminal offense for anyone to sit, lie down, or camp in public areas and prohibited solicitation of money or other things of value at specific hours and locations. Austin voters approved Proposition B 57.7% to 42.3% at the election on May 1.

Austin, Texas, Police Policy Initiative: Staffing Levels, Training, and Hiring Practices (November 2021)

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering a selection of local police-related measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, law enforcement staffing requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. Ballotpedia has tracked eight other measures related to police policies that were on the ballot earlier in 2021 or are on the Nov. 2 ballot.



Duggan and Adams advance from Detroit, Michigan mayoral primary

Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and Anthony Adams advanced from Detroit, Michigan’s mayoral primary on Aug. 4, 2021. Duggan received 72.4% of the vote and to Adams’ 10%. Tom Barrow received 6% of the vote followed by Myya Jones with 5%. No other candidate received more than 2%.

Before becoming mayor, Duggan was president and CEO of Detroit Medical Center from 2004 to 2012. He was assistant corporation counsel for Wayne County from 1985 to 1986, deputy Wayne County executive from 1987 to 2000, and Wayne County prosecutor from 2001 to 2003. Duggan was first elected mayor in 2013 when he defeated opponent Benny Napoleon (D) with 55% of the vote to Napoleon’s 45%. In 2017, he was re-elected by a margin of nearly 44 points, defeating Coleman Young II (D) with 71.6% of the vote to Young’s 27.8%. Duggan said that, if re-elected in 2021, he would “work every day to continue to make sure every neighborhood has a future and every Detroiter has a true opportunity to achieve your dreams.”

Adams was an attorney as of the primary and served as deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D). He was also an executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young, was a board member and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools, and was interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Adams said his “extensive leadership experience, unwavering commitment, and enlightened skill-set uniquely position him to move the city of Detroit forward” and that he was “committed to serving the ordinary people of Detroit and not Special Interest Groups.”

Economic development and public safety were major issues in the race. Duggan said he would work with the city council and manufacturers to bring more high-paying jobs into the city. Adams said he would support a universal basic income plan and an income-based water billing system and emphasized early intervention as a means to reduce crime. Barrow also supported a water affordability program for Detroit residents and said neighborhood revitalization projects should focus on a broader area and not just downtown.

The city of Detroit uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

Additional reading:



Update on Seattle’s mayor and council primary election results

Seattle, Washington, held top-two primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Results of the races are pending. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail (ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person). Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. King County Elections plans to release updated vote totals each weekday until results are certified on Aug. 17. 

Below are the top five candidates in each race as of preliminary results released Aug. 3. 

Mayoral primary

Fifteen candidates ran in this election. Incumbent Jenny Durkan did not seek re-election. 

  • Bruce Harrell – 38.2%
  • Lorena González – 28.5%
  • Colleen Echohawk – 8.3%
  • Jessyn Farrell – 7.5%
  • Arthur Langlie – 5.8%

City Council position 9

Seven candidates ran in the primary for the seat González currently holds. 

  • Sara Nelson – 42.4%
  • Nikkita Oliver – 35.0%
  • Brianna Thomas – 14.3%
  • Cory Eichner – 4.2%
  • Lindsay McHaffie – 1.8%

City Council position 8

Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda is seeking re-election. The primary featured 11 candidates. 

  • Mosqueda – 54.6%
  • Kenneth Wilson – 18.3%
  • Kate Martin – 12.5%
  • Paul Glumaz – 5.7%
  • Alexander White – 1.6%

Seattle holds elections for mayor and two at-large city council seats every four years. The seven other council seats are elected by district every four years. The last election for those seats was in 2019.



Seattle city attorney primary undecided

The nonpartisan primary election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, was undecided as of 8:00 p.m. on August 3, 2021. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail (ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person). Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. King County Elections plans to release updated vote totals each weekday until results are certified on Aug. 17. 

The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Ann Davison led with 34.6% of the vote followed by incumbent Pete Holmes with 32.8% and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy with 32.2%.

According to a survey conducted by Crosscut, a nonprofit news site, the top issues for voters were housing and homelessness, police and public safety, taxes and the economy, and urban planning and transportation.

The Fuse Progressive Voters Guide, which endorsed Holmes, said his priorities were “passing stronger gun laws, reducing excessive force on the part of the Seattle Police Department, vacating marijuana charges, and keeping people housed post-pandemic, among other policies.”

Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.”

Thomas-Kennedy ran on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her website said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.”

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote. In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

Additional reading:



Voters decide municipal primary elections in Clallam County, WA

Clallam County, Washington, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Top-two primaries took place on Aug. 3 in three cities in Clallam County—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In total, 26 offices are up for election in those cities this year.

Results of the races are pending. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail, though ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person. Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. The Clallam County Auditor’s office releases updated vote totals on a daily basis until all ballots are counted.

In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district. Below are the preliminary results from races where primaries took place in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks as of Aug. 4. The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, when the other 20 offices will also be on the ballot.

Port Angeles

Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2

Jesse Charles – 25.45%

Mary Hebert – 36.08%

Jean M. Stratton – 6.06%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent) – 47.05%

John DeBoer – 11.43%

Adam Garcia – 41.44%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

Mike French (incumbent) – 57.02%

John Madden – 35.42%

Samantha Rodahl – 7.54%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent) – 41.65%

Jason Thompson – 21.06%

Jena Stamper – 37.26%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

Kate Dexter (incumbent) – 53.9%

Jon Bruce – 5.4%

John W. Procter – 40.65%

Sequim

Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 (multi-county race)

Derek Huntington – 16.02%

Kristi Schmeck – 29.07%

Virginia R. Sheppard – 28.17%

Rachel Tax – 26.56%

Forks

Forks City Council Position No. 2

Josef Echeita – 31.22%

Barbara Neihouse – 9.26%

Clinton W. Wood – 58.2%

Clallam County is located in the northwestern corner of Washington. The estimated population in 2020 was 76,770. The county sits at the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, on the Olympic Peninsula.



Detroit voters reject Proposal P charter revision

Detroit Proposal P, which would have adopted a new city charter for Detroit was defeated by voters on August 3. According to election night results, 67% of voters were opposed to the measure, and 33% were in favor.

The new charter would have made changes to policy regarding broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics. The revised charter would have been 145 pages long, adding 25 pages to the existing 120-page charter.

Proposal P would have replaced Detroit’s existing city charter, which was approved by voters in 2011 and enacted in 2012. The 2012 charter was the product of its own Charter Revision Commission, which was elected by Detroit voters in 2009. The charter was revised twice before the 2012 version in 1997 and 1974, with the original charter having been enacted in 1918. When Detroit first revised its charter, it set a precedent allowing for the creation of a nine-member commission to investigate and propose any necessary changes to the city charter.

In August of 2018, Detroit voted to revise the 2012 charter by approving Proposal R. Later that year, voters elected a Charter Revision Commission in the November election. The Revision Commission was tasked with preparing a revised charter to put before voters. This charter was on the ballot on August 3 as Proposal P.

Proposed changes to city policy within the charter included the following:

  • developing free public broadband internet;
  • providing reparations to Black residents;
  • changing police practices, policies, and training requirements;
  • giving residents amnesty for water and sewer fees; and
  • granting tax credit for residents who show proof of overassessed property taxes.

Ballotpedia has tracked eight other local ballot measures in 2021 concerning

  • police oversight;
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions;
  • police and incarceration practices;
  • law enforcement department structure and administration;
  • law enforcement budgets;
  • law enforcement training requirements;
  • law enforcement staffing requirements; and
  • body and dashboard camera footage.

In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states that appeared on local ballots. All 20 were approved.

Additional reading:



Voters approve Washington sheriff recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington was held on Aug. 3. A majority of voters cast yes ballots, approving the recall. Hatcher will be removed from office once results from the election are finalized.

The recall effort began in July 2020 and was led by the Benton County Sheriff’s Guild. Members of the guild said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. 

Hatcher, who first took office in May 2017, 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.

Washington requires recall petitions to be reviewed by a judge before they can be circulated. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition against Hatcher on Aug. 20, 2020. Hatcher appealed the decision to the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled on Nov. 6 that the recall effort could move forward and begin collecting signatures. The 13,937 signatures required to get the recall on the ballot was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election. Recall supporters submitted 16,552 signatures on April 23. The Benton County Auditor verified 14,215 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Incumbents advance in Wichita City Council primary races

Voters in Wichita, Kan., held a nonpartisan primary election on Aug. 3 for two seats on the city council. The general election will be held on Nov. 2.

Of the three city council seats on the ballot in 2021, only two required a primary election. In the race that did not require a primary election, District 1 incumbent Brandon Johnson and Myron Ackerman will face off in the general election. Johnson was elected to the city council in 2017.

In the District 3 race, incumbent Jared Cerullo and Mike Hoheisel advanced past the primary by defeating Jason Carmichael, Jerome Crawford, Ian Demory, Cindy Miles, and Tevin Smith. According to unofficial results, Cerullo and Hoheisel received 29% and 27% of the vote, respectively. Cerullo was appointed to the city council in March 2021 to replace James Clendenin. Clendenin resigned on Dec. 31, 2020, after being censured for his role in an attempt to falsely accuse Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) of sexual harassment.

In the District 6 primary, incumbent Cindy Claycomb and Maggie Ballard defeated Martin Garcia, Loren John Hermreck, Dereck Reynolds, and Andy Speck. Claycomb received 41% of the vote, and Ballard received 44%. Claycomb was elected to the city council in 2017.

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 49th-largest city in the U.S. by population. It had an estimated population of 389,938 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 68 cities, including 40 mayoral elections.

Additional reading:



Filing deadline approaches to run for municipal office in Minneapolis, St. Paul

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota is on Aug. 10. Prospective candidates may file for:

The nonpartisan general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Elections for all five offices will use ranked choice-voting. A ranked-choice voting system is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are, respectively, the first- and second-largest cities in Minnesota, and the 46th- and 65th-largest in the U.S. by population.



22 states allow for the recall of school board members

Of the 39 states that allow for the recall of elected officials at some level of government, 22 specifically allow for the recall of school board members. School board recalls are the process of removing school board members from office via a public effort before their term is completed.

Six of the states that allow school board recalls require specific grounds to be met in order for a recall effort to move forward, such as malfeasance or misfeasance in office.

The number of signatures required to get a school board recall on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the board member’s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In all but one of the states, recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. Virginia is the exception. If enough signatures are collected in that state, a trial is held at the circuit court level.

The amount of time recall petitions are allowed to be circulated also varies by state. Georgia, Nebraska, and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation time with 30 days. Out of the states that have a time limit for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest with 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia do not have a time limit for petition circulation.

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 57 efforts against 143 members as of Aug. 3. This is the highest number of school board recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in one year since our tracking began in 2010. The next-highest was in 2010 with 39 efforts against 91 school board members.

Additional reading: