Embattled Columbia Heights City Council Member KT Jacobs filed a lawsuit against the city Thursday in Anoka County District Court, in an effort to stop an election that could recall her.
Jacobs' attorney Greg Joseph argued at a news conference alongside Jacobs on Thursday that the City Council should not have accepted a petition seeking a special election, and should not have scheduled the recall. The suit does not seek damages and does not name any individuals, he said, and seeks only to stop the February election.
Over the last year, the council has passed two resolutions calling for Jacobs to step down, after she was accused of calling now-Council Member Justice Spriggs and questioning his biracial identity and qualifications during a two-hour phone call while he was running for office. An outside investigator hired by the city suggested Jacobs had been untruthful when she blamed the call on a relative using her cell phone.
The investigator also found that Jacobs failed to conduct herself ethically and in accordance with the council's Code of Conduct.
Jacobs' suit argues the city should not have considered the recall petition, because the phone call and her conduct during the investigation were not valid reasons to seek a recall under the city charter or state law.
"I don't care if somebody was offended by something," Joseph said Thursday. He declined to answer questions about the call, while Jacobs again denied making the call.
The lawsuit also argues there are technical problems with the signature pages that should disqualify the petition.
The recall election is scheduled for Feb. 13. Jacobs would ordinarily be up for reelection in November 2024. Jacobs said Thursday she has not yet decided whether to run again.
"This has been a very difficult 14 months and counting," Jacobs said Thursday, claiming she has received death threats. She said the only thing she wanted was to be treated fairly.
During the news conference outside City Hall, Jacobs was repeatedly asked to step down by Chris Finlayson, who has been active in the recall effort. Jacobs and Joseph largely ignored him.
Asked later why she wanted to stay on the council even though she said the episode has impacted her health, Jacobs said she did not want any future council members to be targeted. She said she wanted to continue representing those who voted for her.
Finlayson said he wondered how effectively Jacobs could represent non-white residents of Columbia Heights. In gathering signatures for the recall petition, he said, he met many residents of color who said they would not feel comfortable going to Jacobs with a concern.
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.