It’s really, really hard to recall an elected official in Washington. The gold standard of recall-worthy idiocy was Dexter Amend, the doddering elected coroner of Spokane County while I worked at the Spokesman-Review in the mid-1990s. He was hit with a recall petition, as described in a Seattle Times news report, asking if an 11-year-old boy had been masturbating before he was burned to death and focusing an autopsy on the “rectal region” of a man who died of AIDS. The man was obsessed with homosexuality, an ideologue and loon. The county racked up claim after claim. Reporters consider him a joke. But, like most recall petitions, that one got tossed out, according to another Times news story.
So did less worthy recall petitions against then-City Council president Richard Conlin (Seattle Times news story), ex-Secretary of State Sam Reed (Seattle Times story) and the mayor of Coulee (AP story). It took a scandal the size of Spokane Mayor Jim West to get a recall petition on the ballot. (Here is the Times story on that.)
And now, we have Cy Sun, the mayor of tiny Pacific, which straddles the boundary between King and Pierce counties. The state Supreme Court this week sent Sun to face a recall election, likely ending his brief tenure as the area’s most erratic mayor.
Sun, elected as a write-in in 2011, has driven Pacific to the brink of bankruptcy by firing or provoking resignation from most of the city department heads, including three police chiefs in quick succession. The city lost its insurance, faces millions in legal claims (including a new one brought just this week by a group of fired police officers), and was on the brink of dissolution last year.
He is accused of using city cops as his personal investigation squad, and then interfering with police when the investigation went against him. He apparently falsely claimed he had been President Eisenhower’s personal doctor and had a 700-acre spread in Oregon, which turned out to be 20 acres dotted with dead chickens. And Sun appears to revel in being a cantankerous old coot, calling a hostile audience “savages” in this Seattle Weekly story.
All this is a reminder of the consequences of a hollowed-out news media. Good election-season vetting may have averted this debacle. Instead, people lost their jobs and Pacific is awash in needless bills.
Farewell, Mayor Sun, and welcome to Washington’s dodo hall of recall fame. Here is the website for the Committee to Recall Cy Sun.