Olympia resident looks to recall charged City Councilman Hyer

March 25, 2010 

OLYMPIA - An Olympia resident is attempting to recall Councilman Joe Hyer, who has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges for allegedly dealing marijuana.

Steven McKnight filed a request for recall to the Thurston County Auditor’s office Tuesday.

In a brief interview, McKnight said he brought the recall because public officials must obey the law. He did not comment on why he was bringing the recall when Hyer hasn’t been convicted of a crime.

“It’s really not about me, it’s about Mr. Hyer selling dope,” he said. “I really feel that this country is based on the rule of law, and I know public officials take an oath to uphold these laws.”

Hyer, who said he had seen the recall request, declined to comment.

The recall request sets in motion a little-used process. Once a recall statement is given to the elections officer, the officer must notify the accused, and certify and transmit the charge. The case then goes to Thurston Superior Court, which is charged with conducting a hearing, in part, to determine whether the acts in the recall request satisfy criteria for recall petitions.

The petitioner will have 180 days to come up with enough signatures to put a recall on the ballot – a time limit that begins 16 days after the Superior Court determines that the criteria for a recall are met.

The petitioner must gather enough signatures of legal voters to equal 25 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for the office “to which the officer whose recall is demanded was elected at the preceding election.”

Hyer pleaded not guilty two weeks ago to two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, each a class C felony.

Hyer was arrested at home on Legion Way last month by detectives with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. Court papers state that a confidential informant wearing a wire bought marijuana from Hyer twice during controlled buys at Hyer’s home in February, court papers state.

A motion filed by Hyer’s attorney, Ken Valz, to prohibit further pretrial publicity in the case suggests that Hyer knows the identity of the informant he sold marijuana to, and that the person is the only one Hyer ever sold marijuana to. Hyer told detectives he sold marijuana, but only to close friends, according to court papers.

In his filing, Valz claims that Hyer was entrapped by someone he thought was his friend. “This ‘friend,’ over a period of several months, lured and induced Councilman Hyer to commit a crime that Hyer would not otherwise commit except for the influence of this ‘friend.’”

The identity of the informant has not been revealed.

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