Judge hears dual petitions to recall Seattle mayor

SEATTLE — A King County Judge heard arguments for two different petitions Thursday to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts heard the cases by telephone, and both accused Durkan of violating her oath of office in responding to protesters, although the petitions’ accusations were different.

One of the persons who filed a petition was Chris Grgich.

“I couldn’t just march. I couldn’t just stand by. I had to stand up and actually protect us and do something,” Grgich said. “She needs to be tried with the people.”

The petition accuses the mayor of: “Malfeasance and violation of oath of office.” It also said Durkan, “Led a militant police force against citizens peacefully protesting,” when officers used tools like tear gas and flash bang grenades to disperse crowds.

Attorneys for the mayor called the allegations “legally insufficient,” and pointed to what they called a lack of any evidence, which “fails to provide any applicable rule, law or standard that was violated.”

“We respectfully request the court to dismiss this petition,” said Ryan Groshong, the attorney for the mayor.

The other petition that was filed had further accusations and alleged that the mayor “endangered the peace and safety of the community” by issuing a curfew without giving people enough time to disperse safely. It also accused the mayor of failing to protect freedom of speech and assembly, among other accusations.

“This is exactly the kind of case that recall is prepared for,” said Elliot Harvey, who spoke for a group who filed the second recall petition.

After hearing the cases, Judge Roberts will have to decide if there is enough evidence of wrongdoing on the mayor’s part for those the petitions to go forward.

There’s also an informal Change.org petition online, which has nearly 32,000 signatures.

“There is reasonable cause for abuse of discretion, for abuse of the office,” Harvey said.

Attorneys for the mayor call the filed petition frivolous, saying it’s the court’s duty to make sure unsubstantiated petitions do not reach voters.

If approved, the petition would need about 54,000 legal signatures, equating to 25% of votes cast in the 2017 mayoral election.