Voters in Spokane, Washington voted yesterday to recall Mayor James E. West from office. With just over half the votes counted, approximately two-thirds of voters favor removing this Republican.
As readers may recall, the Spokesman-Review, the paper of record in Spokane, broke a story in May that Mayor West was chatting with teenagers and young men online. While I believe that it is the Mayor’s own business what he does with his own time (I said as much here), it appears that the Mayor may have used city resources to browse gay web-sites and may have offered some young men jobs in expectation of dates and/or sexual favors. And at least one young man has alleged West molested him when he (the young man) was a minor.
In my second post on the topic, I said these charges “should be thoroughly investigated and, if warranted by the evidence, criminal charges against the mayor should be filed.”
Although West “has not been charged with any crime,” voters chose to oust him. Certainly they were concerned about the charges against him. Perhaps, they were also appalled at his poor judgment. In this day and age, he should have known that reporters are always looking for dirt.
In voting to recall Mayor West, citizens of Spokane obviously felt that their city needs a new leader, that the current mayor had compromised his ability to govern by offering city jobs to young men he met on the web. While I have much compassion for a middle-aged gay man who felt so lonely that he would spend much of his free time online, I don’t think Mr. West knew where to draw the line. He should have realized that his duties as mayor required that he conduct himself in a different way.
Apparently the citizens of Spokane thought so as well.