EVERETT, Wash. - The state Supreme Court has cleared the path for signature-gathering to begin in a second recall effort against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.
Justices issued a ruling Thursday that finalizes the content of recall petitions that will be circulated starting Friday by those seeking to oust the first-year sheriff, The Daily Herald reported.
The petitions contain three charges. Two are linked to Fortney’s criticism of Gov. Jay Inslee in April when he said in a Facebook post that Inslee’s stay-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic was unconstitutional and that his deputies would not enforce it.
The third claim says Fortney “exercised discretion in a manifestly unreasonable manner” by rehiring three deputies fired for misconduct by the previous sheriff.
Justices tossed another charge that dealt with a public statement made in a case in which a sheriff’s deputy tackled a Black medical worker who was accused of jaywalking.
“We are ecstatic,” said Colin McMahon, a public defender and one of four local attorneys behind the recall effort.
Mark Lamb of Bothell, attorney for Fortney, said they were encouraged that the Supreme Court threw out what he called the most extreme of the anti-police claims made by the recall proponents.
“The remaining claims are meritless and will be thrown out by the people of Snohomish County in due time,” he said.
To get on the ballot, those leading the recall will have 180 days to gather valid signatures of roughly 45,000 registered Snohomish County voters. If successful, an election would be held after the signature count is certified by the Snohomish County elections office.
Fortney did not seek a Supreme Court review of another recall petition, filed by Monroe resident Lori Shavlik. Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning allowed Shavlik’s recall effort to go forward on May 15.