Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (right) speaks at a news conference at City Hall in Seattle on July 13, with Police Chief Carmen Best looking on. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (right) speaks at a news conference at City Hall in Seattle on July 13, with Police Chief Carmen Best looking on. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Judge reaffirms allowing Seattle mayor recall petition

The petitioners accused Jenny Durkan of failing to ban the use of tear gas by police.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A judge who ruled earlier this month that a recall petition against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan could move ahead is holding to that decision.

King County Superior Court Judge Mary E. Roberts on Wednesday denied a motion by Durkan that asked Roberts to reconsider her July 10 ruling, The Seattle Times reported.

The mayor could appeal to a higher court, but the ruling marks another legal win for Durkan’s opponents in what would be a long process to oust her from office in a special recall election.

Roberts earlier this month dismissed six charges made by the petitioners as insufficient grounds for a recall but allowed a seventh charge to advance.

If the petition survives, the mayor’s opponents will need to collect over 50,000 signatures from Seattle voters within 180 days. The recall election would be a simple up-or-down vote on Durkan, and her removal would result in the City Council’s president, currently M. Lorena González, becoming mayor.

The petitioners — a group of Seattle residents — have accused Durkan of failing to institute policies to ban the use of tear gas and other chemical crowd-control agents by police “when such use would be particularly detrimental to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Roberts found that charge was sufficient with respect to Durkan allegedly not stopping the weapons from being deployed after she knew about and opposed their use on peaceful protesters as a means of crowd control.

Durkan asked Roberts to reconsider, arguing the use of tear gas to disperse protesters was a decision made by Police Chief Carmen Best, not by the mayor.

The petitioners opposed the motion, arguing that Best works for Durkan and that the buck should stop with the mayor. Roberts agreed Wednesday in a written ruling.

When asked about the ruling in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Durkan said she hadn’t seen it yet.

“I was elected to be mayor of Seattle, she said. “It’s a democracy and if sometime the voters decide they don’t want me, that’s alright too.”

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