Petition to recall Spokane mayor rejected

Petition to recall Spokane mayor rejected

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May 18 2005 12:00 AM ET

The only effort so far to recall Spokane, Wash., mayor James E. West, who has been accused of sexual improprieties, has been rejected by the Spokane County prosecutor's office, officials said. The petition request, filed by Shannon Sullivan, was incomplete because it did not include a sworn statement from her that the accusations she leveled against West were true and that she had knowledge of the facts upon which her recall petition was based, the prosecutor's office said in a statement Monday. Sullivan has the option of completing the statement and submitting the petition again, said Paul Brandt, Spokane County elections manager. To force a recall election, she would then have to get at least 12,567 valid signatures of registered voters. Sullivan's effort is the only recall proposal that has come to the attention of city officials so far, Brandt said. Meanwhile, a city council resolution asking West to take a two-week formal leave of absence failed Monday night on a 3-3 vote. The resolution was sponsored by council member Joe Shogan and supported by council president Dennis Hession and council member Al French, who said they were trying to maintain stability in City Hall. Council members Cherie Rodgers and Mary Verner, who have sought West's resignation, said administrative leave was inadequate. The third no vote was cast by Bob Apple, who said West had not been proved guilty. "We need to know the truth here," Apple said. Council member Brad Stark was absent, resulting in the stalemate. Under the city charter, West's duties would be transferred temporarily to Hession if the mayor places himself on formal administrative leave. The council does not have the power to place West on leave or force him to resign. West, 54, has been on an informal temporary leave and not making comments since shortly after The Spokesman-Review on May 5 began reporting that he offered city jobs to young men he met in a gay online chat room. The FBI has opened an inquiry into a possible public corruption case involving those allegations. The city attorney is investigating whether West's city computer was used improperly. The newspaper also reported allegations that West sexually abused two young boys decades ago. West adamantly denied the molestation allegations but acknowledged he had visited a gay online chat room and had relations with adult men. Some political and business leaders have called for the resignation of West, a former Republican state senate leader and staunch foe of gay rights who took office as mayor of Spokane in January 2004. West's lawyer, Bill Etter, was out of town Monday and did not return a telephone call for comment. Last week Etter rejected demands for resignation and said a potential recall election was not appropriate. "The mayor feels strongly that he has always performed his duties with the best interests of the city in mind and has never used or abused the office for personal reasons," Etter said. "No American, let alone a popular and effective elected official like Mayor West, should ever give up their job on mere speculation that there may be other allegations against him," he said. Many of those attending the council meeting said they wanted West to resign. "I feel the mayor has proven himself immoral with a lack of integrity," Michael Weaver said. "There is no way Jim West can resume his role as mayor," former Spokane mayor Sheri Barnard said. "His trust and credibility are gone." (AP)

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