Snohomish County Sheriff going to 'campaign mode again' to fight against recall petitions

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. -- In response to one of two recall petitions against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, he said he will go into "campaign mode" again, sooner than he would like.

Sheriff Fortney made headlines in late April when he questioned on a Facebook post,  whether Governor Inslee's statewide stay-home order was constitutional and said he was not enforcing it.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Fortney told Q13 News that he will defend against the recall by going back out into the county, refuting allegations and defending against the recall effort by reaching out to as many people as he can in the community, he said.

"My thoughts on the petition are that it’s frivolous and unwarranted," said Fortney. "I think it's coming from people who disagree with my point of view or the direction I may be taking in public safety. I think I absolutely held my oath to both the Constitution and the rule of law."

A judge on Friday said a recall petition, started by Monroe resident Lori Shavlik,  can move forward. She'll have 180 days to collect about 42,000 signatures, something she knows will be made more challenging by the Coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing measures in place.

“I was very alarmed, because the first thing I thought was, 'Oh no. What if he decides not to follow other laws? What kind of unruliness will we have?" Shavlik said. “I guess the clearest message I could send is that it’s not his choice. He was put there to follow the law and enforce it, not to create it.”

According to Fortney, hearing that a judge ok'd that Shavlik's petition can proceed was tough.

"Friday was a tough day. We did not expect that outcome. We didn’t. And I will never make that mistake again, mark my words. Did not expect that outcome so it was a little tough. But the frustration set in over the weekend but I’m like, we can’t change it," he said.

Fortney said he does not believe that overall Shavlik will get the necessary amount of signatures but that, "it could happen." The sheriff said he is preparing for the worst, but not backing down.

"The keyword that’s missing, everybody gets hung up on the 'enforcement' word. Well, what about the word ‘discretion.’ We have discretion in law enforcement. The prosecutors have discretion in which crimes they ultimately end up charging. So what everybody is missing is the discretion portion of my job. We use discretion every day in law enforcement," he said.

The Sheriff in the April 21st Facebook post said that he "will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights." He also encouraged, at the time, that businesses should reopen and that residents should "return to work if they choose to do so. "

"It’s interesting. The Governor’s own advice, and I know that you guys have heard him, he doesn’t want people out there getting arrested. So the crazy thing is that I’m agreement with the Governor on his approach to enforcement," he said. "I just came out and said it, granted, in a more provocative way if you will, and it was provocative. There’s no doubt about it. But I think it needed to be said at the time. I think a lot of people were thinking the exact same thing that I said."

For Shavlik, she believes Sheriff Fortney's actions put lives at risk.

"I have a Navy son, I have a veteran son. I have so much respect for our liberties ... but there has to be a level that we feel is safe and healthy for everyone else," Shavlik said. “I would ask Adam Fortney, what is his message? What is his goal to do? To change the law? To tell people they don’t have to follow the law? I mean what is his message going to be to us?"

A second recalled petition was filed last week from attorney's who, according to the Everett Herald, question the Sheriff's handling of the outbreak in county jails, and his rehiring of deputies that were fired from the previous sheriff.

Fortney said he disagrees with Shavlik's petition, but respects the process.