City council sets date for special recall elections

Kent residents to vote on January 13

The Kent City Council voted last night to place the recall of five of its nine members on special ballots in accordance with the Kent City Charter.

Kent residents will vote on the matter during a special election to be held Jan. 13. As required by the Kent City Charter, members of the council, including those up for recall, had to vote to approve the recall election.

“There is something seriously wrong with the City Charter when we have no say in the matter according to the law director,” At-Large Councilman Rick Hawksley said.

Apart from Hawksley, the other four members of the council up for recall are Ward 2 Councilman Jack Amrhein, Ward 5 Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer, Ward 6 Councilwoman Tracy Wallach and At-Large Councilman Michael DeLeone. If all five members were to be recalled, the City Council would lose a majority of its nine members.

City Clerk Linda Copley said in order for a council member to be recalled, the number of signatures on the petition must be equal to 20 percent of the number of votes cast in his or her ward during the previous election.

Copley explained that for the at-large members to be recalled, DeLeone and Hawksley, there needed to be at least 340 signatures on the petitions, however, for ward council members to be recalled, the number of signatures needed was as little as 20. This difference in numbers is due to at-large council members representing the entire city, rather than just one ward.

“This is highly unusual,” Copley said about the recall, the likes of which has never happened before in Kent history.

She added that if one or all five of the council members are recalled in the special election, the city will have 30 days to replace them.

Residents whose council member is up for recall will vote on whether their council member will be removed from office. If any of the council members are removed from office after the special election, then the remaining council members will vote someone in to fill the vacated seats. The residents will not vote on who will take over the empty seats.

The consensus of the city council members up for recall is that they are going to continue to do their jobs as council members until the recall election.

“I am going to continue to work here, continue working at the high school, and continue taking care of my family,” Amrhein said.

Some council members where concerned about the cost of holding a special election.

“It is an unnecessary expense,” Wallach said. “I think the recall was used inappropriately.”

Wallach added that she is concerned about the recall election causing a division among Kent voters by making them pick sides on the issue.

Contact public affairs reporters Kristen Kotz at [email protected] and Sarah McGrath at [email protected].