Tagrecall

Recall petition filed against Washington sheriff

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 said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Over 90% of the guild members participated in a vote on the matter in June 2020, and 100% of those who voted were in favor of starting the recall effort.

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. “It’s been hard watching what goes on in the nation,” Hatcher said. “And for the first time, I’m seeing it within my own organization.”

Benton County Sergeant Jason Erickson filed the recall petition with the Benton County Auditor on July 20, 2020. The next step is for a judge to rule whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the claims in the recall petition. If the judge rules in favor of the petition, Hatcher will be able to file an appeal. If he does not, or if his appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions.

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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Mayoral recall effort underway in Seattle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing a recall effort over actions by the Seattle Police Department during protests following the death of George Floyd. Petitions were approved for circulation on July 10, 2020. Recall organizers have until January 6, 2021, to gather about 54,000 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot.

The recall effort is organized by Elliott Grace Harvey, Alan Meekins Jr., Courtney Scott, Leah Solomon, and Charlie Stone. Petition filings made seven accusations against Durkan. King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts found that the second charge was sufficient grounds for the recall effort to move forward. The second charge read, “Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under RCW 35.18.200, Seattle Charter Art. V, Sec. 2, SMC 10.02.010A, and her oath to uphold US Const., Amends. 1 and 4, Washington Constitution, Art. 1 Sec. 3-5, when she failed to institute new polices and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department when using crowd control measures during a public health emergency.”

The other six charges were dismissed as being insufficient for a recall election. The Superior Court hearings were to determine if the accusations were legally sufficient for a recall election. It is not the role of the court to decide whether any alleged facts are true or not.

A spokesperson for Mayor Durkan provided a written statement following the court decision to allow recall organizers to begin gathering signatures. The statement read, “In the midst of unprecedented challenges for the City, Mayor Durkan consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights of peaceful protestors. She also believes Chief Best has exercised her challenging duties lawfully and appropriately to protect the public peace. At this stage, the Court is required to accept the petition’s allegations as factually true. Even under this low standard, the Court dismissed six of the seven claims in the petition, in addition to dismissing outright another petition. The Mayor believes the remaining claim will be dismissed.”

A separate recall effort, relating to accusations of misuse of police force during protests, was deemed insufficient by the King County Superior Court on July 10.

The Washington Constitution allows for the recall of elected officials if they violate their oath of office or “in commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office.” To put a recall on the ballot, recall supporters have 180 days to collect valid signatures equal to 25% of the total vote for the office in the last regular 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.

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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.

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Montana mayor sues to stop recall election

In Montana, Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey has filed a lawsuit in Ravalli County District Court seeking to stop the recall election against him. The lawsuit argues that the recall petitions did not include important context about the allegations against him and that the recall therefore shouldn’t have been approved for circulation. The recall election is scheduled to take place via mail-in ballots on August 4, 2020.
The recall effort is being organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh in response to Dewey signing a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. Petitions accused Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of that size 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
In a town council meeting after the contract was signed, Stevensville Town Attorney Scott Owens stated that Dewey did not commit an illegal act 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.


Voters approve Colorado sheriff recall

A recall election seeking to remove Lance FitzGerald from his position as Ouray County Sheriff in Colorado was approved by voters with 92.8% of the vote on June 30, 2020, according to unofficial election night results. Justin Perry (unaffiliated) defeated Ted Wolfe (R) in the election to replace FitzGerald. The election was conducted by mail-in ballot.

The recall effort began in January 2020. FitzGerald was targeted for recall after he was arrested on DUI allegations on November 27, 2019. The Ouray County Republican and Democratic parties created a recall committee together to lead the effort. The recall petition stated that county citizens did not have confidence that the sheriff could “uphold the duties and responsibilities of his elected position.” FitzGerald did not respond to the recall effort.

Recall supporters had 60 days to collect 768 signatures from eligible Ouray County voters. They submitted 1,082 petition signatures in March 2020. The county verified 914 of the signatures in April 2020, allowing the recall to move forward. FitzGerald had 15 days to file a protest against the recall petition. If he had, a hearing over the recall petition would have been held. Because he did not, the recall election was scheduled.

FitzGerald was sworn into office in January 2019. He ran as an unaffiliated candidate and defeated Republican Joel “BB” Burk by 11 votes.

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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Colorado sheriff recall on June 30 ballot

A recall election seeking to remove Lance FitzGerald from his position as the Ouray County Sheriff in Colorado is being held on June 30, 2020. Justin Perry (unaffiliated) and Ted Wolfe (R) are running to replace FitzGerald. The election is being conducted by mail-in ballot. Voters received their ballots by June 11 and must return them by 7 p.m. on June 30.

The recall effort began in January 2020. FitzGerald was targeted for recall after he was arrested on DUI allegations on November 27, 2019. The Ouray County Republican and Democratic parties created a recall committee together to lead the effort. The recall petition stated that citizens did not have confidence that the sheriff could “uphold the duties and responsibilities of his elected position.” FitzGerald did not respond to the recall effort.

FitzGerald was sworn into office in January 2019. He ran as an unaffiliated candidate and defeated a Republican, Joel “BB” Burk, by 11 votes.

Recall supporters had 60 days to collect 768 signatures from eligible Ouray County voters. They submitted 1,082 petition signatures in March 2020. The county verified 914 of the signatures in April 2020, allowing the recall to move forward. FitzGerald had 15 days to file a protest against the recall petition. If he had, a hearing over the recall petition would have been held. Because he did not, the recall election was scheduled.

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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Two Massachusetts selectmen facing recall on June 27

In Kingston, Massachusetts, Selectmen Chairman Josh Warren and Selectman Elaine Fiore are facing a recall election on June 27. Both officials became the subject of a recall campaign stemming from their official response to an incident that occurred in January 2020 between another selectman and a town employee. Recall supporters, led by Kingston resident Peter Boncek, accused Warren and Fiore of nonfeasance and an inability to act in the best interests of their constituents. Warren responded that the board had launched a fact-finding inquiry into the January incident and hired an independent investigator who ultimately found both of the involved parties were at fault.

The recall effort was launched in January 2020 and petitioners successfully collected enough signatures to meet the required threshold of 20% of the town’s registered voters. On February 26, the Kingston Board of Registrars certified 2,053 signatures on Warren’s petition and 2,073 signatures on Fiore’s petition. After neither official resigned from their position, the Kingston Board of Selectman scheduled the recall election for June 27 to coincide with Kingston’s annual town elections.

In this case, the officials subject to a recall election are permitted to run in the replacement election for their seats in the event they are recalled. Both Warren and Fiore chose to run, so challenger Richard Arruda is facing Elaine Fiore in the replacement race for her seat, and challenger Kimberley Emberg is facing Joshua Warren in the replacement race for his seat.

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Recall approved for circulation against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on June 8 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Supporters of the recall need to submit 1,062,647 signatures within a 60-day period to force a recall election. The 60-day period begins on the first day that signatures are collected. According to WTVB, chief petitioner Chad Baase plans to start collecting signatures on July 1, 2020. That would make the signatures due by August 30, 2020.

The recall petition criticizes Whitmer over nine of her executive orders that she signed during the coronavirus pandemic. The orders include her declaration of emergency and the temporary suspension of non-essential businesses and activities.

Baase said about the recall, “She didn’t put through effective measures with COVID to ensure businesses didn’t have to close their doors. Some places couldn’t social distance under the federal guidelines, but many businesses could have stayed open with safety guidelines in place and were forced out of work. You can’t take away someone’s income and say you’re eligible for pandemic unemployment but then you can’t speak with anyone. I’m still waiting on my unemployment. They owe me 10 weeks.”

Christopher Mills, a senior adviser to Gov. Whitmer’s campaign, said the following about the recall effort: “Michiganders know that the vast majority support the governor’s swift and aggressive action in the fight against COVID-19. The governor plans to fight this recall aggressively while staying focused on protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19.”

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

Six gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Voters approve California school board recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Leanne Ibarra and Jose Lara from their positions on the El Rancho Unified School District Board of Education in California was approved by voters on June 2, 2020. Joseph Rivera was elected to replace Lara, and Esther Mejia was elected to replace Ibarra. The election was conducted entirely by mail-in ballot in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lara resigned from his seat effective February 5, 2020. At a school board meeting on January 21, 2020, Lara said he was leaving in order to focus on his family while his son recuperated from an illness. His name was still on the recall election ballot. If a majority of voters had cast ballots to retain him, the school board would have appointed his replacement.

The recall effort began in May 2019. Recall supporters listed a number of concerns with the board, including a vote to notify 23 administrators they could be fired or reassigned, a vote to demote, transfer, and release six administrators, and the alleged mismanagement of a $200 million bond. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect at least 6,509 signatures by October 23, 2019. In an interview with the Whittier Daily News, Lara said, “The community of Pico Rivera has been driven along a misinformation campaign. They’ve only heard one side of the story.”

Lara was first elected to the five-member board on November 5, 2013, and Ibarra was first elected on November 6, 2018. Before Lara resigned, Lara and Ibarra were members of a three-person majority on the board, according to the Whittier Daily News. The third member of the majority, Gabriel Orosco, was not included in the recall effort as his term is up for election in 2020. The other two members of the board supported the recall.

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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Mayoral recall effort scheduled in Montana

An effort in Stevensville, Montana, to recall Mayor Brandon Dewey was initiated in March 2020. 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 taking place by mail-in ballots on August 4, 2020.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh in response to Dewey signing a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. Petitions accuse Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of that size 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.

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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