The effort to recall Gary Cronce as Mayor and Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of Shelton is going to the petition phase. While the recall of Kathy McDowell as Shelton City Commissioner of Finance has been dismissed.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese issued his rulings on the recalls on April 6, 2018 after a hearing on the recalls was held Monday, April 2nd.
Judge Lanese dismissed the one allegation against McDowell and two of the three allegations against Cronce saying the petitioner (Mike Olsen) “failed to demonstrate” he (Olsen) had “sufficient knowledge of facts indicating” that Mr. Cronce and Ms. McDowell intended to violate the law.” These allegations had to due with a statement made by Cronce during a City Commission meeting urging residents to vote against the proposition to change to a council form of government, and communication between the two on social media was outside an open public meeting.
However, the Judge reached a different conclusion regarding the allegation that Cronce used a city computer and email address to solicit a campaign contribution. According to the seven-page ruling, Olsen provided the court with records regarding training he and Cronce attended that identified such conduct as violating the law.
In response to this allegation, Cronce stated it was a “one-time mistake and that he had no intent to violate the law.”
The Judge found this charge against Cronce is “sufficient” for a recall writing “a mayor using a city computer to solicit a campaign contribution using his city e-mail account is such conduct–it is so plainly a violation of the law on its face that no further corroborating evidence of intent is required to permit an inference of intent.”
Judge Lanese revised the ballot synopsis for recalling Cronce to state: “Gary Cronce is accused of malfeasance, misfeasance, and violating his oath of office while serving as elected mayor of the City of Shelton in violation of Chapter 29A.56, Revised Code of Washington by: using a city-owned computer on or about September 2, 2015 to solicit a campaign contribution from Hall Equities, owner and developer of the Shelton Hills Project, for himself for reelection, and for Kathleen McDowell, a candidate for Shelton City Commissioner of Finance.”
The recall effort against Gary Cronce now enters the petition phase which requires 571 signatures from City of Shelton registered voters before the recall would go to a vote of the people. The Mason County Auditor’s Office will need to verify the signatures. The recall would then be placed on a primary election or general election ballot.