Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Spokane mayor recalled after Internet sex scandal

December 7, 2005


— Mayor James E. West was recalled from office Tuesday in a special election over allegations he offered jobs and perks to young men he met in a gay Internet chat room.

West, 54, became the city's first elected chief executive to be ousted before his term expired.

With just over half of the 110,000 mail-in ballots counted, 38,718, or 65 percent, voted to recall West, while 20,681, or 35 percent, voted to retain him.

West must leave office when the election results are certified Dec. 16. He has spent 25 years in public office.

The campaign to recall West began last spring after the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that West was a closeted homosexual who visited gay chat rooms using his city-owned laptop computer and offered internships and other favors to young men he hoped to have sex with.

West, a former Boy Scout executive and sheriff's deputy, was elected mayor in 2003 after serving more than two decades as a Republican in the state Legislature, where he voted against gay-friendly bills.

The recall petition contended West used his political office for personal benefit by offering a city internship to someone he thought was an 18-year-old man he had met in a gay online chat room and with whom he had sexually explicit chats.

One person he believed was a high school senior was actually a computer expert hired by the newspaper to snare West.

West, who has not been charged with any crime, acknowledged making mistakes in his personal life but asked voters to give him a second chance.

City Council President Dennis Hession, a lawyer first elected to the seven-member council in 2002, will become mayor pro tempore until the council appoints a replacement to finish the two years remaining on West's term.


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