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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.

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Voters to decide mayor, city council primaries in Seattle on Aug. 3

Seattle holds top-two, nonpartisan primaries for mayor, two at-large city council seats, and city attorney on Aug. 3. Races for the mayor’s office and one city council seat are open. Incumbent City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and City Attorney Pete Holmes are seeking re-election.

Mayoral primary

Fifteen candidates are on the mayoral primary ballot, with six leading in endorsements, fundraising, or media attention. Four of the six have served in city or state government. Casey Sixkiller was Seattle’s deputy mayor from 2020 until his mayoral campaign. Lorena González is the city council president. Bruce Harrell was city council president from 2016 to 2017 and from 2018 to 2019. Jessyn Farrell was a state representative from 2013 to 2017.

Colleen Echohawk is the executive director of Chief Seattle Club, an organization providing services to American Indian and Alaska Native people. Andrew Grant Houston, an architect, owns a business and served as Mosqueda’s interim policy manager.

City Council primaries

Seattle has nine city council seats, seven of which are elected by district and two, citywide. The seven district seats were last up for election in 2019. The two at-large seats are up this year.

Position 9 is open as González, the incumbent, is running for mayor. Three of seven candidates have led in endorsements, fundraising, and media attention: Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson, attorney and Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver, and Brianna Thomas, who serves as González’s chief of staff.

Local media outlets have said the position 8 seat is uncompetitive, with Mosqueda, the incumbent, favored to win.

City councilmembers’ endorsees

Five current city councilmembers endorsed in the mayoral race. Mosqueda, Tammy Morales, Lisa Herbold, and Andrew Lewis endorsed González. Dan Strauss endorsed both Echohawk and Farrell. Harrell has the most endorsements from former councilmembers (four).

In the city council position 9 election, Thomas received endorsements from González, Herbold, Strauss, and Lewis. Mosqueda and Morales endorsed Oliver. Five former councilmembers endorsed Nelson.

Two of the three council members who have not endorsed in either race—Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen—were the two candidates who won in 2019 with backing from the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. They also were the two council members to oppose Seattle’s 2020 ordinance instituting a tax on companies with payrolls of $7 million or more a year. CASE is not active in the 2021 election cycle.

Kshama Sawant, the third council member who has not endorsed, is a member of Socialist Alternative and is the target of a current recall effort.

City attorney election

Incumbent Pete Holmes, Ann Davison, and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running. Holmes first took office in 2009. Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D) and state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti (D) are among his endorsers. Davison, an attorney and arbitrator, received endorsements from The Seattle Times and former Gov. Dan Evans (R). She ran for lieutenant governor in 2020 and city council in 2019. Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney. The Stranger endorsed her.



Washington sheriff recall to be held Aug. 3

A recall election seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington is being held on Aug. 3. Recall supporters had to collect 13,937 signatures in six months to put the recall on the ballot. 

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.

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Recent polls, satellite spending in Seattle’s mayoral and council races

Seattle voters have just over one week to cast their ballots in the Aug. 3 top-two primaries. A poll released July 16 showed a plurality of voters unsure who they’d choose for mayor and the two at-large city council seats. The Northwest Progressive Institute poll, conducted by Change Research, showed 32% undecided for the mayoral race, 50% undecided for the position 9 council seat, and 55% undecided for the position 8 seat. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 4.3 percentage points.

In the mayoral primary, 20% of respondents said they supported former council president Bruce Harrell, 12% said they supported current council president Lorena González, and 10% backed Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk. The 12 other candidates running received less than 10% support among poll respondents.

For the position 9 council seat, attorney and Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver received 26% support, Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson received 11%, and González’s chief of staff Brianna Thomas received 6%, with the four other candidates polling at 3% or less.

For the position 8 council seat, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda polled at 26%, with Kate Martin at 6%, nine other candidates below that percentage, and 55% unsure.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reported more than $600,000 in satellite spending toward the mayoral race as of July 21:

  • Essential Workers for Lorena had spent $430,000 supporting González; 
  • Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future had spent $120,000 supporting Harrell; and 
  • Seattle United for Progressive Change had spent $70,000 supporting Farrell. 

The Progressive Equity PAC had spent $21,000 supporting Thomas in the position 9 council election.

Total satellite spending for the 2017 election cycle—the last time the city held elections for the two at-large council seats and for mayor—was around $1.3 million. In 2019, when the seven district council seats were up for election, satellite spending topped $4 million.



Seattle city attorney primary to take place August 3, 2021

Incumbent Pete Holmes, Ann Davison, and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running in a nonpartisan primary election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, on August 3, 2021. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021. According to a survey conducted by Crosscut, a nonprofit news site, the top issues for voters are housing and homelessness, police and public safety, taxes and the economy, and urban planning and transportation.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote. In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 53% of voters were undecided in the race. Sixteen percent of respondents backed Holmes, 14% back Davison, and 14% back Thomas-Kennedy. The poll’s margin of error was 4.3%.

As of July 19, Holmes led in fundraising with $92,691, followed by Thomas-Kennedy with $16,102 and Davison with $7,014.

After attending Yale College and the University of Virginia School of Law, Holmes worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and was a business litigation attorney before being elected city attorney in 2009. According to the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide, which endorsed Holmes, his priorities are “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.” Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D), State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti (D), King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and a number of state senators and representatives also endorsed Holmes.

Davison is a Seattle attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. 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.” Former governor Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She is running on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website says “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.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

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.

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Local papers issue endorsements in Seattle’s Aug. 3 primary elections

In the last two weeks, The Seattle Times and The Stranger have issued endorsements in Seattle’s top-two primary elections taking place on Aug. 3. 

In the mayoral primary, featuring 15 candidates, the Seattle Times endorsed Bruce Harrell. Harrell was on the city council from 2008 to 2019, serving as council president from 2016 to 2017 and from 2018 to 2019. The Stranger endorsed current council president Lorena González, who first joined the council in 2016 and became president last year. Incumbent Mayor Jenny Durkan is not seeking re-election.

In the city council position 9 primary, The Seattle Times endorsed Fremont Brewing co-owner and former council legislative advisor Sara Nelson. The Stranger endorsed Nikkita Oliver, attorney and executive director of Creative Justice. González is the current incumbent. Seven candidates are running to succeed her. 

The position 8 council seat is also up for election this year. Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda is seeking re-election. Local media outlets have described the race as uncompetitive. The other seven city council seats, which are elected by district, were up for election in 2019.

City elections in Seattle are nonpartisan. In both the mayoral and council position 9 election, all candidates leading in campaign finances, endorsements, and media attention have endorsements from elected officials and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party. 

Primary election ballots were mailed to voters on July 14. Ballot drop boxes opened July 15.

Additional reading:

City elections in Seattle, Washington (2021)

Mayoral election in Seattle, Washington (2021)



Washington initiative signature deadline passes with no campaigns submitting signatures

The signature submission deadline for Initiatives to the People (ITP)—which is the name of direct ballot initiatives in Washington—passed on July 2, 2021. No campaigns submitted signatures. To qualify for the ballot, proponents would have needed to submit 324,516 valid signatures. A total of 136 ITPs were filed by five sponsors. The filed initiatives concerned a range of topics, including taxes, affirmative action, drug policy, marijuana, civil rights, and time standards.

Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct state statute—called Initiative to the People (ITP) in Washington—or indirect state statute—called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL) in Washington. In Washington, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation through veto referendums. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments.

This year will be the third consecutive year that no ITPs appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington. The 2020 election was the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot did not feature an Initiative to the People (ITP).

The last ITPs on the ballot were decided in the 2018 general election. In the ten-year period from 2009 to 2019, six ITPs were on the ballot in odd-numbered years: one in 2009, three in 2011, and two in 2015.

The signature deadline for 2021 Washington Initiatives to the Legislature (ITL) was December 31, 2020. A total of 216 ITLs were filed by 14 sponsors. None of the campaigns submitted signatures by the deadline. Thirty-four Initiatives to the Legislature have been on the ballot since the first ITL in 1916; 18 were approved. The most recent ITL, Initiative 976, was on the ballot in 2019 where it was approved and later invalidated by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Two veto referendum measures filed by Tim Eyman have a signature deadline of July 24, 2021. A veto referendum is a type of citizen-initiated ballot measure that asks voters whether to uphold or repeal a law recently passed by the state legislature. Opponents of the law collect signatures for the veto referendum petition hoping that voters will repeal it at the ballot. Referendum 92 would ask voters to approve or repeal House Bill 1091, which would create the Clean Fuels Program overseen by the Department of Ecology to limit transportation fuel energy greenhouse gas emissions. Referendum 93 would ask voters to approve or repeal Senate Bill 5126, which was designed to create a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions overseen by the Department. of Ecology. Ballotpedia is not aware of an active signature-gathering campaign for either measure.

The Washington State Legislature may refer constitutional amendments to the ballot with a two-thirds (66.67%) supermajority vote. No constitutional amendments or other referrals were passed in the legislature before it adjourned its 2021 session on April 25, 2021. Advisory questions on bills increasing tax revenue could appear on the 2021 ballot.

A total of 61 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during odd years from the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019. 56% (34) were approved, and 44% (27) were defeated.



Petition signatures submitted for Washington sheriff recall

An effort to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington submitted signatures on April 23. If the Benton County Auditor verifies at least 13,937 of the signatures, a recall election will be scheduled.

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 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. Hatcher first took office in May 2017.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition on Aug. 20. Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the Washington Supreme Court. The supreme court ruled against Hatcher on Nov. 6, allowing the recall effort to move forward and begin collecting signatures. Recall supporters had six months to collect signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 227 recall efforts against 279 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Recall charges against Seattle school board members dismissed

A King County Superior Court judge on April 19 dismissed recall charges against six of the seven members of the Seattle Public Schools school board in Washington. The hearing on the petitions was held on April 16.

The recall charges were filed against Liza Rankin, Lisa Rivera Smith, Chandra Hampson, Zachary DeWolf, Leslie Harris, and Brandon Hersey in March 2021. District IV representative Erin Dury was not included in the recall effort as she was not a member of the board at the time charges were filed. She was appointed to the position on March 24.

Recall supporters said the board had failed to transition to in-person instruction in a timely manner. Seattle Public Schools started out the 2020-2021 school year in remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board voted on March 24 to move Pre-K through fifth-grade students into in-person instruction starting in April 2021. The school board members did not publicly respond to the recall effort.

When dismissing the petition, Judge Mafé Rajul said the decision to close schools was a “discretionary act and members of a school board cannot be recalled unless they arbitrarily or unreasonably exercised such discretion.” She said the school board members had not acted arbitrarily or unreasonably when they voted to close the schools.

If the recall charges had been approved, recall supporters would have had to collect signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last election for each official.

Rankin, Rivera Smith, and Hampson were first elected to four-year terms on the board on November 5, 2019. Harris was re-elected to the board in the same election. DeWolf was re-elected to the board on November 7, 2017, and Hersey was appointed to the board on September 18, 2019. The school district is holding a regular election on November 2 for the seats held by DeWolf, Hersey, and Dury.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Arizona is 7th state to order in-person school instruction, others schedule openings

On March 15, Arizona became the seventh state to require at least part-time instruction for certain grade levels. Oregon will join the list in two weeks, and Washington will join in three.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R-Ariz.) March 3 executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction took effect March 15. High schools and middle schools in high-transmission counties are exempt from the order. Parents can still keep their children in virtual classes.

On March 12, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an executive order requiring public elementary schools to reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction. The order also requires public schools to open for grades 6-12 by April 19. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote instruction.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also said on March 12 he will soon issue an emergency proclamation requiring elementary schools to provide students at least two partial days of in-person instruction by April 5. Schools must provide older students the same by April 19. As of March 15, Inslee had not signed the proclamation.  

All three states had previously left reopening decisions to school districts.

Nationwide:

  • Four states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M.) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction
  • Two states (Ariz., W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
  • Thirty-nine states left decisions to schools or districts