WHATCOM — A county Superior Court hearing on the effort to recall Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is set for Thursday, March 2.
The hearing will be before Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis at 8:30 a.m. in the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham. It is open to the public, although space is limited. This is the second step in an ongoing effort to remove the state senator from his position.
Constituents from the 42nd District filed papers for a recall against Ericksen on Feb. 9, alleging that he is neglecting his duties as state senator since being in a national temporary position as head of communications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the new Trump administration.
Since accepting the position with EPA, Ericksen has missed seven of 29 meetings for committees he serves on, according to a legal memo submitted to Washington Courts. Ericksen was present for some committee hearings in February.
But Ericksen says he has no doubt about his ability to hold both positions at the same time, emphasizing the EPA one is temporary. The Whatcom County Republican Party issued a release in favor of his decision to take on the two positions simultaneously. The party states that the D.C. role can be nothing “but a boon to Whatcom County citizens” and that the recall charges are “purely partisan political posturing.”
Michael Shepard and the Riveters Collective, a group of civicly active progressives, are spearheading the recall effort. Shepard said that what should be most troubling for voters is their inability to reach Ericksen.
“We have attempted dialogue with senator Ericksen through phone, email and personal visits to his office in Olympia,” Shepard said in February. “So far, our senator has not returned our requests for dialogue.”
In a letter addressed to Ericksen and shared with the Lynden Tribune in mid-February, the Riveters Collective and other 42nd District constituents requested a town-hall meeting with Ericksen in Ferndale.
The letter, signed by approximately 300 constituents, listed a number of available dates in March and stated, “If none of these Saturdays works for you, please advise on an alternate date which fits your schedule.”
The group had yet to receive a response regarding the request as of Monday, Feb. 27.
“Lots of elected officials hold town halls to engage with constituents when policy is being made,” said Elizabeth Hartsoch, founder of the Riveters Collective. “He hadn’t scheduled a town hall meeting, so we decided we would plan it for him.”
Looking back at previous such cases, Hartsoch said she doesn’t believe the Superior Court will rule in favor of the recall charges. But she believes the effort brings a bigger issue to light — the lack of a standard to hold senators accountable.
“As far as I can tell, state senators are not required to do anything,” Hartsoch said. “There’s nothing you sign that you’ll show up, aside from being elected and reelected.”
One question she would like to ask Ericksen, if given the opportunity, Hartsoch said, is “what kind of legislation should be proposed regarding the requirements of state senators?”
The judge must decide if there is enough credibility in what is alleged against Ericksen that the recall effort can proceed.