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Originally published August 24, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 24, 2005 at 9:01 PM

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Supreme Court allows Spokane mayor recall to proceed

She had to wash a lot of cars to get there, but unemployed Spokane mother Shannon Sullivan is in Olympia, where she is set to tell nine...

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Supreme today affirmed a judge's ruling that a recall petition against Spokane Mayor James E. West can proceed.

Just hours after lawyers for West argued that the petition by Shannon Sullivan was factually and legally insufficient, the high court affirmed a lower court ruling that the document bearing a single abuse-of-office allegation could proceed to signature gathering.

Sullivan filed her recall petition in May, shortly after The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane published a series of articles detailing how West - a conservative Republican, former state senator and longtime gay-rights opponent - had been meeting men online for sex.

Her petition alleges that West used his elected office for personal gain - specifically, that West wrote a recommendation letter to help someone he believed to be an 18-year-old man get a City Hall internship. The teen turned out to be a computer forensics expert hired by The Spokesman-Review.

Sullivan contends the recommendation was inappropriate because of the possible implication that the man would get an internship in exchange for sexual favors.

West has admitted having relationships with adult men, but denies any misuse of office. He has not been charged with a crime, but the FBI is investigating.

Sullivan was traveling to Spokane and not immediately available for comment. Lawyers for West said they would release a statement later in the day.

The ruling means recall supporters can begin collecting signatures immediately.

Spokane County Elections Supervisor Paul Brandt said it would be very difficult to get the required 12,700 valid signatures in time for the November election.

"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.

Brandt said the elections office would have to receive the signed petitions no later than Friday, because it will need four weeks to verify the signatures and take other steps necessary to get the recall on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The Spokane City Council has unanimously called for West to resign, but Councilman Joe Shogan said the recall election is a good alternative.

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"The people of the city who elected the mayor will now have the power to decide if he remains in office," Shogan said. "It's an opportunity for the people to be heard on the matter."

Shogan said he hoped the recall could be folded into the regularly scheduled November election, to save the costs of having to mount a special election early next year.

"It will occur when it occurs," he said.

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