Council members win recall election

Kristine Gill

Kent residents voted to keep all five Kent City Council members who were up for recall in yesterday’s special election.

Jack Amrhein for Ward 2, Heidi Shaffer for Ward 5, Tracy Wallach for Ward 6 and members-at-large Michael DeLeone and Rick Hawksley will continue to serve the city nearly three months after petitions demanded the recall election.

“We’re relieved,” Hawksley said. “We all feel lighter.”

Amrhein agreed.

“I’m basically very grateful to the people in my ward who voted for me,” he said, adding that the results prove he has the support of the city.

Residents voted “yes” if they were against the recall and in favor of the council members keeping their positions. According to unofficial results, Amrhein received 399 votes, Shaffer received 145 votes, Wallach received 281 votes, DeLeone received 1512 votes and Hawksley received 1472 votes.

Shaffer also expressed thanks to those who voted against the recall and was happy to see the council members won by a good margin.

“This has been very difficult,” she said. “It’s really distracted city council from its work.”

Treasurer of Citizens for a Better Kent, Renee Ruchotzke, organized volunteers in November to educate the public about the recall election. While the group was in favor of keeping the members up for recall, she said it was a matter of process and not policy.

“(The council members) deserve to serve as elected without interference,” she said, adding that she didn’t necessarily support the council’s stance on all issues.

Ruchotzke said Citizens for a Better Kent is looking into changing the city’s recall policy.

“It’s really easy to get a recall on the ballot,” she said. “Now that we’ve defeated this recall we want to see what we can do to reevaluate the provision in the charter.”

Kent citizens first circulated petitions in September to recall the council members who voted to place a .5 percent income tax reduction for those Kent residents who work outside the city. Council later amended their decision but the petitions received sufficient signatures based on city council policy to hold a special election. Current policy requires the number of signatures collected on the petition equal 20 percent of the number of voters who voted in each ward in the previous election.

Contact public affairs reporter Kristine Gill at [email protected].