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U.S. Senate confirms six U.S. District Court nominees

The U.S. Senate confirmed six nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships. The 94 U.S. District Courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts. The Senate has confirmed 214 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 157 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.

The confirmed nominees are:

Stephen McGlynn and David Dugan, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. When they assume office (after receiving their judicial commission and taking their judicial oath), the court will have:
• No vacancies.
• Two Democrat-appointed judges and two Republican-appointed judges.

Stanley Blumenfeld, Mark Scarsi, and John Holcomb, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. When they assume office, the court will have:
• Seven vacancies.
• Nine Democrat-appointed judges and 12 Republican-appointed judges.

Todd Robinson, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. After Robinson assumes office, the court will have:
• Four vacancies.
• Four Democrat-appointed judges and five Republican-appointed judges.

Blumenfeld, Scarsi, Holcomb, and Robinson are the first four District Court nominees to be confirmed to a California court since Trump took office.

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Washington Supreme Court to review county sheriff recall petition on November 5

The Washington Supreme Court agreed to review a petition seeking to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff. 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. Hatcher’s appeal will be considered by the court on November 5, 2020.
 
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 for their actions. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.
 
If the appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions. Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.
 
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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Recall campaigns in Washington
Political recall efforts, 2020
County official recalls



Ballot deadline for November election passes in Boise recall effort

Efforts in Boise, Idaho, to recall Mayor Lauren McLean and Councilmember Lisa Sanchez were initiated in July 2020. The deadline to put the recalls on the November 2020 ballot was August 28. Recall organizers did not meet that deadline but said they were not trying to get the recalls on the November ballot. The earliest the recall elections can be on the ballot is now March 2021. The deadline to submit signatures in the recall against McLean is September 30, and the deadline for the recall against Sanchez is October 5.

The recall efforts are being organized by Karene Alton and Joe Filicetti. Alton and Filicetti have accused McLean of being dishonest in the way she campaigned for election. Filicetti also cited COVID-19 shutdown orders, failure to support police, and the contents of a report from the mayor’s transition team after she was elected as reasons to recall McLean. The effort to recall Sanchez was initiated in response to statements she made about an 18-year-old who was arrested for firing his rifle in city limits while counter-protesting Black Lives Matter in June 2020.

McLean responded to the recall campaign against her when the recall effort was still unofficial. She said, “That’s an information collecting effort that everybody has a right to do. I remain focused on ensuring that I am working with an economic recovery task force, that we are partnering with businesses and other agencies to support our community as we recover. We are focused on ensuring that Boise remains Boise. Now, and into the future.”

A recall election for a city official requires valid signatures equal to at least 20 percent of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general city election held in the city for the election of officers. Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 75 days after the form of the recall petition is approved for circulation. Recall organizers are required to submit 26,108 valid signatures for the recalls against McLean and Sanchez.

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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Washington sheriff files appeal against recall petition with state supreme court

An effort to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington began in July 2020. The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They allege that Hatcher 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.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition on August 20, 2020. Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the Washington Supreme Court. If his appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions. Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

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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Recall fails against select board member in Reading, Massachusetts

On September 1, a recall election was held for Reading Select Board Member Vanessa Alvarado in Massachusetts. Unofficial results showed that the recall election was unsuccessful, with 5,641 votes against the recall to 3,831 votes in favor of the recall. Results will become official after they are certified by town officials.

The recall effort against Alvarado began in February 2020 and was based on allegations that Alvarado impeded the hiring of a new police chief in her role as board chair. Alvarado denied the allegations, arguing that she was trying to provide open, public discussion about the police chief’s appointment and did nothing to violate the town charter.

Petitioners were required to obtain 2,000 signatures from Reading’s registered voters in order to put the recall on the ballot. In March 2020, Reading’s board of registrars certified 2,239 signatures.

Because the recall election was unsuccessful, Alvarado will retain her position on the Reading Select Board. She is serving the final year of her three-year term and is eligible to run for re-election in April 2021.

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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Guam governor cancels primary due to COVID-19

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) signed a bill on August 28 to cancel the primary taking place on August 29 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Bill 391 was passed in the Guam Legislature by a 12-3 vote on August 27. The Guam Election Commission said that it wasn’t confident it could conduct a safe election while Guam remains under lockdown due to the pandemic.

Guerrero signed an executive order on August 27 to extend Guam’s public health emergency an additional 30 days. At the time of the executive order, Guam had recorded 1,232 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Governor Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio (D) both tested positive for coronavirus in early August.

Officials looked at options for postponing the primary, but any delay would prevent Guam from meeting federal requirements for the general election. Bill 391 extends the window for voters to cast in-office absentee ballots by 15 days. Absentee ballots will be accepted starting on September 19. The bill also requires that the Election Commission submits a safety plan to the legislature by September 14.

All primary candidates automatically advance to the general election on November 3. This means that some races will have multiple candidates from the same party on the general election ballot. In the election for Guam’s non-voting member in the U.S. House, incumbent Michael San Nicolas (D) is running against Robert Underwood (D) and William Castro (R) in the general election.

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Filing deadline approaches for Jersey City City Council special election

Candidates interested in running in the special election for Jersey City City Council Ward D have until August 31, 2020, to file. The special general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. No primary election is scheduled.

The special election was called after Michael Yun passed away on April 6, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. Yun was first elected in 2013 and held the office until his death.

The winner of the special election will serve out the rest of Yun’s unexpired term, ending on December 31, 2021. All nine seats on the city council are up for regular election in 2021.

Jersey City is the second-largest city in New Jersey by population and the 73rd-largest city in the United States.

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Idaho county commission recall elections defeated despite majority of votes in favor

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho was held on August 25, 2020. Though 73% of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the two commissioners, both recalls were defeated. In order to be approved, the recalls needed at least as many votes as the officeholders received when they were elected. A minimum of 710 votes in favor of recall was needed to remove Ellis from office, and 704 were cast. A minimum of 833 votes was needed to remove Hubert from office, and 698 were cast.

The recall effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

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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Ballotpedia tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in six states

As of August 21, Ballotpedia is tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in 13 jurisdictions in six states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Seven of the 18 measures are on the ballot in California and four are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Nine of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  1. Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  2. Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  3. San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  4. San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  5. San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  6. Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  7. DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  8. Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recordings that document police use of force resulting in a death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  9. Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigations, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  10. Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  13. King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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Judge allows recall election to move forward in Stevensville, Montana

A Ravalli County District Court judge has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for a recall election to move forward against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey. Judge Howard Recht’s ruling on August 14 said that Dewey “acted outside the law and without legal authority” when he signed a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. In June, Dewey filed a lawsuit with the district court, arguing that the recall shouldn’t have been approved for circulation. Dewey’s position was that the recall petitions misrepresented the situation surrounding the recall effort.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh. Petitions accused Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of the size of the First Call contract would normally require approval from the town council. Rodabaugh said that the way the contract was signed bypassed the competitive bid and contract award process.

Petitions were approved for circulation on April 7, giving petitioners until July 6 to submit 251 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot. Petitions were accepted by Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg on May 22, and 254 signatures were found valid. The recall election is scheduled to take place by mail-in ballots on November 3, 2020.

Dewey responded to the recall effort and said, “If you strictly took state law and municipal ordinance, I think, yes, a case could be made that there was some impropriety. But that’s only true if you completely ignore the purchasing policy which the council adopted a number of years ago and has reviewed on a regular basis since delegating this authority to department heads and the mayor.”

Dewey sent a letter to Plettenberg after the signatures were verified. He wrote that the recall petition is “invalid and should be rejected on the basis of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records or information. These facts presented in the meeting by City Attorney Scott Owens conclude that there was no merit to the allegations brought forth, now presented in the recall petition, and that no illegal action had been taken by the mayor or administration. Ms. Rodabaugh was aware of these facts when submitting the petition and further omitted the authority given to the Mayor in the purchasing policy from the language in the petition she submitted. Therefore, she has knowingly submitted false allegations and information in the recall petition.”

Dewey provided a written statement that will be included on the recall election ballot:

“The Mayor did not violate Montana Law, Stevensville Code, or his oath in authorizing the purchase of IT services needed for the Town. The Town’s Attorney investigated and determined that all purchasing activities were done legally and compliant with laws.

“Montana law has a process for bidding when dealing with “other than professional, technical, engineering, or legal services.” This process does not apply to IT services. According to MCA 7 5-4301 contracts for professional, technical, engineering, or legal services are excluded from certain provisions.

“The Council adopted a Purchasing Policy in 2014 to delegate authority to departments and the Mayor for purchases in varying dollar amounts. Though this policy, the Council puts trust in the Mayor to spend within the budget without direct oversight.

“The purchasing policy states that for other professional services, including non-construction services totaling between $1,501 – $25,000 per agreement, purchases contained in the current fiscal year budget …, Departiment Supervisor’s need only get confirmation by the Mayor prior to purchasing.

“With Council’s approval in the 2019-2020 Budget, the services totaling less than $25,000 in FY2019-2020 was consented to by the Town Council. The Council had authorized several payments to the vendor after the Mayor authorized the purchase.”

In a town council meeting after the contract was signed, Stevensville Town Attorney Scott Owens stated that Dewey did nothing illegal because, while an agreement had been signed by the mayor for an amount of money that usually would require council approval, the money had been included in the budget that the council approved and was only being paid out incrementally. Owens said that Dewey’s actions were close to illegality but did not cross the line.

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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