Janelle Riddle, Yakima County clerk, responds to discussion involving a 74-page report recently released by a blue-ribbon panel regarding procedural short-comings by the clerk’s office during a Law and Justice Committee meeting at the county’s Facilities First Street Conference Room in Yakima, Wash. on Thursday, June 23, 2016. (SHAWN GUST/Yakima Herald-Republic)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Although a recall effort against Yakima County Clerk Janelle Riddle won’t reach the ballot until just months before her term expires, proponents aren’t stopping.

“She still needs to be recalled,” said Yakima attorney Bob Young. “I don’t have confidence that she can do the job.”

The recall effort is being slowed by an appeal Riddle filed with the state Supreme Court in late July after a Spokane Superior Court judge allowed the recall effort to move forward.

A hearing before the justices isn’t scheduled until Oct. 5.

Bruce Smith, publisher of the Yakima Valley Business Times, and area attorneys Young, Rick Kimbrough and Dick Johnson are seeking the recall, accusing Riddle of misfeasance and malfeasance. They base much of their effort on problems she’s had in her office, such as failing to process protection orders and forwarding child support orders in a timely manner to the state, which enforces them.

Those problems and others were also cited in a state audit and in an investigation conducted by an independent panel that included Johnson.

Even though Riddle’s term expires in December 2018, Young said a recall is needed to thwart any effort by her to be re-elected.

He said incumbents tend to win elections and that wouldn’t be good for the county, given the problems she’s had since taking office in January 2015.

“Having her stand election again, I don’t like that principle,” he said. “Because people tend to vote with an incumbent, I think it’s important that we get this done.”

Riddle didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

There are narrow windows in which recall elections can be held.

If the appeal fails, those seeking the recall would have to gather more than 10,000 signatures supporting the effort; a recall election cannot be held sooner than 45 days from the day the signatures are certified or more than 60 days later, said Yakima County Auditor Charles Ross.

Also, a recall election cannot be held six months prior to a general election or right after a primary election, he said.

Most likely, a special election would have to held at a $250,000 cost to taxpayers.

But Young said that would be better than the financial liability Riddle continues to be for the county.

Although Riddle has said problems outlined in the recall effort have been fixed, Young isn’t convinced, and points to complaints raised by county Budget Manager Craig Warner about Riddle failing to file the proper paperwork with the state this year to receive reimbursements of more than $100,000 for processing child support orders.

Young said her failure to process protection orders is still a concern, and that continued problems could be a huge liability for the county.

“Quite frankly, $250,000 isn’t quite that much money compared to what somebody might get in a claim against the county in a lawsuit over a protection order,” he said.

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