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Spokane mayor vows to remain in his job

Spokane mayor vows to remain in his job

Revelations that Spokane, Wash., mayor James West had sexual encounters with men--and has been accused of pedophilia by two alleged victims--came as a shock to residents of this city. But it came as no surprise that West, 54, has vowed to stay in his job. His career has been based in large part on overcoming adversity. "I am a law-abiding citizen, and I believe my public record of service stands on its own merit," West said Thursday in his only public comments on the case. "I have 1,150 days left in my term of office, and each and every one of those days will be dedicated to serving the city." West also vehemently denied the molestation allegations, but he did acknowledge trolling a gay Web site and said he "had relationships with adult men. I don't deny that." West, raised in Spokane, joined the U.S. Army in 1971 and became a member of the 82nd Airborne. One of his Internet chat room screen names on was "Cobra82nd," thought to be a reference to his military service, according to The Spokesman-Review newspaper, which broke the story on Thursday. In 1982 he was elected to the state house and five years later moved up to the state senate. A social and fiscal conservative, he spent the next 16 years rising in power until he became majority leader in 2003. West opposed gay rights, abortion rights, and teenage sex during his legislative career. He made headlines in 1990 when he proposed marriage from the floor of the senate to Ginger Marshall while she was visiting the capitol. Their marriage ended five years later, and they had no children. Spokane's gay leaders said there have long been rumors about West's sexual orientation. Kevan Gardner of the Pride Foundation, a gay group, said he was sorely disappointed that West railed against gay rights for so long. In an e-mail to city employees Thursday, West gave no hint of resigning. "It's only three and a half days to Monday and boy am I looking forward to that," West wrote. "As you know, Monday is my favorite day of the week because it is a new beginning and it comes every seven days." Meanwhile, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on Monday called for West to resign. "Three victims of Mayor Jim West's predatory and appalling behavior have already come forward and, based on what we know about pedophiles, it's almost certain there are many more. Some media reports quote people as saying this is a 'tragic' situation for West and imply that his conduct showed he was 'uncomfortable with his identity.' Nonsense. Pedophilic behavior is always wrong and has nothing do with sexual orientation. This man--whether he's straight, bisexual, or gay--deserves nothing but scorn. He needs to resign immediately." (AP)

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