King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov

Charter amendments could allow King County Council to remove elected officials

The change was recommended by the charter review commission.

The King County Council could have a way to remove elected officials for inappropriate conduct if they approve an update to the county’s charter.

The recommendation comes as part of the county’s charter review commission process, which recommended several other items as well. Commissioners said the charter should be revised to allow the county council to remove other elected officials – including fellow council members – from office for misfeasance, malfeasance or violations of their oath of office.

Seven of the nine county council members would have to vote to remove an official.

However, Kirkland city council member and charter review commissioner Toby Nixon said these are the same standards currently needed to hold a recall election. The change would allow the county council to essentially impeach elected officials.

“The commission supported the idea that it should be possible, with a supermajority vote, for the county council to remove any county official, including other members of the council,” he said.

Tim Ceis also sat on the commission. He said the conversation on the commission was started after the scandal surrounding Ed Murray, the former mayor of Seattle who resigned after multiple allegations of child sexual abuse, was exposed. Sexual assault allegations against the former King County Sheriff John Urquhart were also discussed.

However, Seattle has a process for removing elected officials in its charter.

“There was no means within the county for removal of an elected official outside of recall, or waiting for the next election cycle to happen,” Ceis said.

The change to the county charter would need to be approved by voters in the county.


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