Dave Ward and Mike Whittaker recall, Jefferson County Fire Protection District 2, Washington (2012)

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A vote about whether to recall Dave Ward and Mike Whittaker from their positions as fire commissioners in Quilcene in Jefferson County, Washington took place on November 13, 2012.[1] Both Ward and Whittaker were recalled.[2] The recall effort was launched in June 2011.[3] An August 2012 ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the recall effort to continue.[4]

Reasons for recall

Ward and Whittaker were accused of falsifying commissioner meeting minutes. According to court documents, Ward directed the Fire District 2 secretary to falsify commissioner meeting minutes from February 8th, 2010, by including the approval of Resolution 2010-02. That resolution, which authorized the district's participation in the Public Employees' Retirement system, was never discussed or approved during that meeting. On March 8th, 2010, Whittaker approved those minutes, despite knowing that they inaccurately reflected the passage of Resolution 2010-02.[3] Ward and Whittaker also came under fire for their creation of a chief operating officer job for the fire district and the hiring of Ward for that position.[5]

Recall supporters

Harry Goodrich, vice president of the Quilcene Volunteer Firefighters Association, and Linda L. Saunders organized the recall effort.[6]

Path to the ballot

On October 25, 2011, Judge Anna Laurie ruled that a valid charge existed against Ward and Whittaker, and that petitions could be legally circulated.

On December 20, 2011, Saunders filed a ballot synopsis in Jefferson County Superior Court. Laurie only approved one of the original recall charges, and Goodrich and Saunders appealed her decision in an effort to include all of the original recall charges on the ballot. The petitioners originally came forward with six charges against Ward and five charges against Whittaker.[6]

In order to recall Ward, recall organizers needed to collect 179 signatures from Fire District 2 voters. In order to recall Whittaker, 194 signatures were required. Signatures were submitted on September 10, 2012. 215 signatures were certified for Whittaker while 220 were certified for Ward.[1]

Supreme Court decision

On June 7, 2012, the Washington Supreme Court met to determine the final language for the recall petition. The Supreme Court action came as a result of recall organizers appealing Judge Anna Laurie's 2011 ruling, which only approved one of five charges leveled against the recall targets.[7] In an August 2012 decision, the court ruled that the allegations against Ward and Whittaker had sufficient weight to allow the signature-gathering to continue towards a public recall vote. The court ruled that a possible violation of the Open Public Meetings Act was sufficient cause to allow the recall to move forward.[4]

After the court's ruling, Shane Seaman, the lawyer for Ward and Whittaker, filed a motion for reconsideration of the Supreme Court's ruling. Seaman also filed a motion to postpone the mailing of election ballots until the Supreme Court decided whether it would reconsider the case. The motion for reconsideration was denied, and ballots were mailed as scheduled.[5]

Election date set

The recall election date was set for November 13, 2012. It was a single-issue, all-mail election. Military ballots were mailed on October 12, while all other ballots were mailed on October 24.[1]

Election results

Dave Ward

Should Dave Ward be recalled?
Approveda Yes 515 61%

Mike Whittaker

Should Mike Whittaker be recalled?
Approveda Yes 511 60%

See also