The second recall campaign against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney has received the OK to proceed. The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a group of local attorneys can begin to gather signatures immediately in their effort to oust the sheriff, who is in the first year of his term.
The recall contains three charges against Fortney. Two of them argue that the sheriff, in a Facebook post in April, wrote that he refused to enforce the state’s “Stay home, Stay Healthy” order during the coronavirus pandemic. The petition charges that his refusal violates his oath of office and that his statements incited the public not to follow the order.
The additional recall charge accuses Fortney of improperly rehiring deputies who had been fired by previous sheriffs for misconduct. He has called his rehire decisions legal and “a matter of the sheriff’s discretion” to bring those officers back to work.
The Associated Press reports that the justices dismissed another charge that dealt with public statements made in a case in which a deputy tackled a Black medical worker who was accused to jaywalking.
“We are ecstatic,” said Colin McMahon, one of the four attorneys backing the recall effort.
Fortney’s attorney, Mark Lamb, said he is encouraged that the court dismissed the jaywalking complaint, which he labeled the most extreme of the anti-police claims.
“The remaining claims are meritless,” said Lamb, “and will be thrown out by the people of Snohomish County in due time.”
Fortney faces two recall campaigns. Courts had given the first group, led by Monroe resident Lori Shavlik, the green light to proceed early this summer. Fortney did not ask the Supreme Court to review Shavlik’s petition.
For either campaign to make the ballot, sponsors must gather 45,000 signatures from registered county voters. The Snohomish County Elections office will confirm the signature count and would decide on the date of a recall election.
— By Bob Throndsen