It didn’t have to end up this way. It really didn’t.
Mayor James West wasn’t the first politician brought down by an eye for the young and attractive.
But he may be the first bounced from office for chasing the mere electronic promise of lust, dangled over the Internet by a newspaper investigating rumors that the mayor was offering city jobs and perks to young men in exchange for sex.
West, 54, was recalled from office in a landslide vote-by-mail election Tuesday.
The crucial evidence was obtained by The Spokesman-Review newspaper, which hired a computer expert to pose as an 18-year-old high school student after hearing rumors that West — a former Republican state legislator who voted against gay-friendly bills — was trolling Gay.com in search of young men.
Ann M. Colford of HistoryLink adds some more context:
On December 6, 2005, Spokane voters recall Mayor Jim West (1951–2006) from office by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent in a special single-question election. Ten days later, the election will be certified, Mayor West will leave office, and City Council President Dennis Hession will become interim mayor (the Council later votes to allow Hession to complete the remaining two years of West’s term of office). The recall election is the climax of a seven-month-long drama that dominated headlines in Spokane for most of 2005, a story in which the city’s sole daily newspaper, the Spokesman-Review, played a major role. The recall removes West from office before the investigations into his conduct are completed; in February 2006 the investigations will be closed with no criminal charges filed.
The recall vote ended West’s 27-year political career, as well as removing him from a job he had described as a “lifetime dream.” He spent two decades in the Washington Legislature as a Republican representing districts in Spokane, including a one-year term as Senate Majority Leader. From the time he entered the House in 1983 until his departure from state politics in 2003, he was known for his fiery temper, his skill as a legislator, and his conservative views on social issues including abortion, teenage sex, and civil rights for gays and lesbians.
Fun fact: Jim West’s username on gay.com was “Cobra82.”