- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a petition to recall embattled Spokane Mayor James E. West can proceed.

Shannon Sullivan, an unemployed mother, filed the petition in May, shortly after the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane published articles detailing how Mr. West had solicited men online for sex.

Mr. West’s attorneys argued that the petition bearing a single abuse-of-office charge was factually and legally insufficient.

The ruling upheld a lower-court decision.

The recall petition says Mr. West used his elected office for personal gain — specifically, that he wrote a recommendation letter to help someone who he thought was an 18-year-old man get a City Hall internship.

The teen turned out to be an adult computer forensic specialist who the newspaper had hired as part of a journalistic investigation.

Miss Sullivan contends the recommendation possibly implied that the man would receive an internship at City Hall in exchange for sexual favors.

“All I wanted was for the people of Spokane to have a voice,” an ecstatic Miss Sullivan said after the ruling. “I don’t want to sound pompous, but I knew I was right, and I knew if I stuck with my hard work and didn’t let them intimidate me, justice would prevail.”

Her lawyer, Jerry Davis, said he still hoped a recall election wouldn’t be necessary.

“What would be nice would be if the mayor would do the right thing and resign,” Mr. Davis said. “If he had any character whatsoever, that’s what he’d do.”

The mayor’s lawyers said in a statement that “although we disagree with the outcome, we respect the court’s decision. As to the basis for the court’s ruling, we’ll await their written opinion.”

The ruling means recall supporters can begin collecting the required 12,600 valid signatures after a five-day waiting period, Mr. Davis said.

But the delay raised questions about whether the petition could be completed in time for the regularly scheduled November election.

Spokane County Elections Supervisor Paul Brandt said his office would have to receive the petitions no later than tomorrow to verify the signatures and take other steps to get the recall on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“Unless they can really get their signatures quickly, with all the deadlines, I very much doubt they could make it by the November election,” he said.

If the recall cannot be included in the regularly scheduled November election, a special election could be necessary early next year.

Mr. Davis disputed that, saying the measure still could make the November ballot even if signatures were turned in beyond tomorrow’s deadline. He said that a separate recall election would cost an estimated $2.1 million.

Mr. West, a conservative Republican and former state senator, admitted having relationships with men but denies any misuse of office. He has not been charged with a crime, but the FBI is investigating.

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