Heated recall effort fails to put Seattle councilmember on ballot

By and large, a list of businesses and companies trying to recall Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez has little to no traction.

The group, Protect Seattle Neighborhoods, has been fighting to remove Juarez, one of three councilmembers, from office, claiming she’s been unwilling to reform public safety policies. The group launched in June but it appears the effort appears to have hit a roadblock.

While some backers of the recall told CNNMoney they are far from giving up, the numbers to date don’t bode well for the group.

There have been 35,000 signature petitions printed thus far and the drive was scheduled to end on Tuesday, but officials said just 48 have been properly certified as valid.

From a process standpoint, the group likely wouldn’t be disqualified unless the remainder can’t be verified because the drive has gone far beyond its five-week time frame. But even if the complete paperwork can’t be reviewed, the petitioners would still have a chance of getting certified through a second round of signatures with some additional backup signatures and possibly “60 days’ additional collection,” according to Protect Seattle Neighborhoods.

Peter Cockrell, president of the group, told CNNMoney his group was not backing down.

“We will be out there the length of time it takes to get the signatures,” Cockrell said in an email, reiterating that he wanted his group to be seen by the public as a true grassroots effort.

He added that he believes the group has enough valid signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

Other signatories told CNNMoney that they are committed to the recall because of the push to reform the criminal justice system.

“When people think about crime, a lot of the conversations are about cops and more guns and more punishment, and that is really driving a lot of the anger on the social justice side,” said one man who asked not to be identified. “There is a large part of the community who believe we’ve overdone that.”

Juarez was elected in 2016 after winning support from labor unions, residents from around the city and their children.

She voted to introduce reforms like expanded pre-K services and flexible scheduling to keep young workers in the city. She also helped lead the unsuccessful efforts to oust Mayor Ed Murray earlier this year from office and she challenged the city’s new Public Safety, Seattle issued, which imposes a $500 fine and reduced sentence for breaking public property offenses like urinating in public.

However, the list of petitioners against Juarez was mostly developed by prosecutors and local law enforcement groups with ties to the prior administration, according to KC Costello, deputy director of the Campaign Legal Center, a public interest group.

“That is certainly not a group that would have any expertise in community organizing,” she said.

For example, most of the petitioners said they don’t actually know Juarez personally, but rather the larger group Protect Seattle Neighborhoods. Many do not know her policies or record, they said. But given that prosecutors and police are involved in efforts against her, it’s plausible that the recall is part of a broader national effort to target liberals.

“We have a lot of information that there is a political agenda with this campaign, to target a particularly progressive individual,” Costello said.

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