Two recall petitions filed against Snohomish County sheriff over coronavirus response

EVERETT, Wash. -- Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney is vowing to fight back against two efforts to remove him from office over his refusal to enforce the statewide stay-at-home order.

Monroe resident Lori Shavlik is behind one of the petitions to recall Fortney, who made headlines in late April when he questioned whether the governor's statewide stay-home order was constitutional and said he was not enforcing it.

Shavlik said she believes the sheriff's decision put lives at risk.

“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.”

Fortney, who's in his first term as sheriff after defeating the incumbent in a big upset, responded on his Facebook page and said he'll be announcing a campaign Monday to fight back against "political assault."

"Although I did not ask for this fight, I will not shrink from it," Fortney said. "I ask the people of Snohomish County join me as they did last November to protect a commonsense approach to public safety that puts people first."

A judge on Friday said Shavlik's recall petition 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 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?"

The second recall petition was filed by a group of four attorneys who cited Fortney's controversial Facebook post and other things the sheriff has done since taking office, according to The Everett Herald.