Recall effort asks court to re-validate signatures

In an attempt to circumvent a King County decision to re-collect signatures for the recall effort against Black Diamond Councilwoman Pat Pepper, a motion has been filed with the state Supreme Court asking to move forward with the recall process with the signatures already collected for the effort.

In an attempt to circumvent a King County decision to re-collect signatures for the recall effort against Black Diamond Councilwoman Pat Pepper, a motion has been filed with the state Supreme Court asking to move forward with the recall process with the signatures already collected for the effort.

The recall effort started April 10 when Neighbor to Neighbor — a local group led by Black Diamond residents Robbin Taylor, Craig Goodwin and Johna Thomson — filed five recall charges against Pepper with the King County Superior Court.

The Superior Court ruled May 10 that four of the five charges were legally and factually significant to allow voters to decide whether or not to recall Pepper.

Pepper appealed to the state Supreme Court, which ruled Oct. 26 that three of the four charges approved by the lower court were legally and factually significant to move forward with a recall.

Approving or disapproving the charges, both courts have stated, does not mean Pepper is or is not guilty of the charges, but that there is enough evidence for voters to decide whether or not Pepper is guilty of the charges through a vote.

In between the court’s decisions, Neighbor to Neighbor collected 639 signatures approving of a recall measure being sent to ballot.

King County Elections required 366 signatures, so having met that goal, the county set a recall election for Dec. 5.

But because the Supreme Court ruling differed from the lower court, King County Elections decided the signatures already collected were invalid and canceled the Dec. 5 recall election, instructing Neighbor to Neighbor they had 180 days, starting Oct. 27, to re-collect 366 signatures for a new recall election.

Neighbor to Neighbor filed a motion with the Supreme Court Nov. 6, asking the court to allow “the recall process to proceed on the basis of the petition signatures already collected and directing the Elections Director to reschedule the Special Election,” the motion reads.

The motion does not ask the court to reschedule the recall election for Dec. 5.

According to King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janine Joly, rescheduling the election to Dec. 5 wouldn’t be feasible, since overseas ballots would have had to been mailed Friday, Nov. 5.

“Should a court decide that the petitioners do not need to collect signatures based on the charges approved by the Supreme Court, King County Elections will set a new election date,” Joly added.

PEPPER HOSTS COMMUNITY MEETING

While the state Supreme Court considers Neighbor to Neighbor’s motion, Pepper is hosting a community meeting about the recall charges brought against her.

In a letter to residents, Pepper said the charges against her are false, and part of the reason the courts approved them was because she represented herself on the Superior Court level.

“With limited time and my lack of legal representation, important supporting evidence that could have ended the recall was not introduced into the record,” Pepper wrote. “This evidence was inadmissible after the deadline, but you can find it on my website (www.patpepper.com).”

The community meeting will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Black Diamond library.

“This time, voters will have an opportunity to hear from both sides before they decide to sign,” Pepper wrote.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 14, patpepper.com was not a functional website.

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