It’s highly unlikely the campaign to oust Pacific Mayor Cy Sun will meet its deadline to hold a special election to recall him, and its members say that means uncertainty for the city come Jan. 1.
Sun filed an appeal Wednesday that will delay, if not prevent, the gathering of about 400 signatures needed to have an election by the end of the year.
That’s a change in tune for the mayor, who has said publicly that he would welcome the chance to let voters decide.
He declined to comment on the appeal Wednesday and referred questions to his attorney.
“I’m pretty sure at the time that he made any comments that he wasn’t represented and didn’t know that he wasn’t represented,” Sun’s attorney, Tyler Firkins, said Wednesday. “Now I think he has a full appreciation of the process and has decided to pursue this path.”
A judge ruled Oct. 9 that two allegations by the Committee to Recall Cy Sun – that he failed to hire police officers and ordered members of the department to act as his “personal police force” – would be grounds for a recall if true.
That would have allowed the campaign to start collecting signatures this month, had Sun not appealed.
Sun’s attorney said the basis of the appeal is that the allegations are untrue. He also takes issue with the recall process, which he says does not have a penalty for false allegations and doesn’t make sense given today’s political partisanship.
“Almost every elected post can turn into a recall,” Firkins said. “This could lead to total chaos.”
Few recall efforts in Washington have reached voters since a 1984 law change that made the process more difficult. It was in response to a perception that recalls were too common.
With Sun’s appeal, the decision now goes to the state Supreme Court, and with it virtually any chance of having an election by the end of the year, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, which writes the ballot synopsis.
“It would be completely dependent on when the Supreme Court issues its decision,” senior deputy prosecuting attorney Janine Joly said about the possibility of a December special election. “It seems highly unlikely.”
Members of the recall campaign can start gathering signatures the day after the court’s decision, if it rules in their favor. But the soonest the election can be held is 45 days after those signatures are verified.
An election by the end of the year would help eliminate uncertainty in Pacific, which could help the city keep its liability coverage, city attorney Kenyon Luce said.
The city’s insurance carrier has said it will end coverage by the end of the year if the situation in Pacific does not stabilize.
“What’s going to happen on Jan. 1 if we do not have insurance?” said Pacific restaurant owner Tracey Apata, who is part of the recall committee. “Who’s going to come to work (for the city) if they know they can be held personally liable for any mistake that they make?”
Without insurance, there might not be any Pacific to speak of.
The city could face disincorporation, Luce said, though that’s uncharted territory and the timeline is unclear, he added.
That wouldn’t be an issue had the committee been able to have the election in November, Apata said.
“I don’t think we’d be in the situation we’re in now where we’re even discussing disincorporation,” she said.
Pacific has about 6,500 residents and lies on the King-Pierce County line.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268