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Kennewick councilman asks Supreme Court to stop an attempt to kick him out of office

Kennewick City Councilman Steve Young has asked the Washington state Supreme Court to review a Benton County Superior Court judge’s ruling that a recall effort can proceed against him.
Kennewick City Councilman Steve Young has asked the Washington state Supreme Court to review a Benton County Superior Court judge’s ruling that a recall effort can proceed against him. File

Kennewick City Councilman Steve Young has asked the Washington Supreme Court to stop a recall effort launched by four citizens who say he’s unfit to serve after losing a wrongful termination lawsuit in his private job.

Young filed a notice of appeal in Benton County Superior Court.

The notice is the first step to asking the state’s highest court to review Judge Bruce Spanner’s ruling that the recall can move ahead on limited grounds.

He also is asking the court to review the ballot language Spanner wrote.

The Supreme Court has not received the case, according to the clerk’s office. The lower court has 14 days to forward the case.

Kennewick residents James E. Wade, Vincent Rundhaug, Robert McClary and Charles Tamburello initiated the recall in August.

The four men sued to recall Young on multiple issues after a jury found the then-mayor aided his Hanford employer, Mission Support Alliance, in discriminating and retaliating against one of his employees, Julie Atwood.

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Steve Young

The jury awarded $8.1 million in damages and Young retired from the company.

Rundhaug said he had not been notified of the appeal and would have to confer with his colleagues before speaking about the case.

Spanner allowed the recall to advance on one count, that Young forwarded an email in 2014 to Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley regarding Dan Newhouse’s campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Both Young and Mosley deny the email was meant to pressure Mosley, Young’s employee, into supporting the candidate, against state campaign laws.

Spanner said the ballot synopsis may read, “The charge that Steve Young, Kennewick City Council Member, Position 7, At Large, committed misfeasance and/or malfeasance alleges that he violated the Washington Fair Campaign Practices Act by forwarding an email that can be interpreted as soliciting from a City of Kennewick employee a contribution on behalf of Dan Newhouse. Should Steve Young be recalled from office based on this charge?”

Rundhaug said the plaintiffs have yet to start gathering signatures on petitions.

The Kennewick City Council voted 3-2 in September to pay Young’s recall-related legal fees. State law allows public agencies to reimburse elected officials for recall-related litigation.

Young is being represented in the Supreme Court appeal by Pasco attorney Bob Thompson, who happens to serve as Richland’s mayor.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514
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