updated 12/7/2005 12:16:51 AM ET 2005-12-07T05:16:51

Mayor James E. West was recalled from office Tuesday in a special election over allegations he offered jobs and perks to young men he met in a gay Internet chat room.

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West, 54, must leave his position when the election results are certified Dec. 16.

With just over half of the 110,000 mail-in ballots counted, 38,718, or 65 percent, voted to recall West, while 20,681, or 35 percent, voted to retain him.

“I said I’d abide by the will of the voters, obviously, and they’ve spoken,” West told The Associated Press. “I’m at peace with their decision and disappointed.”

West has spent 25 years in public office and is the city’s first elected chief executive to be ousted before his term expired.

The campaign to recall him began last spring after the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that West was a closeted homosexual who visited gay chat rooms using his city-owned laptop computer, and offered internships and other favors to young men he hoped to have sex with.

Elected in 2003
West, a former Boy Scout executive and sheriff’s deputy, was elected mayor in 2003 after serving more than two decades as a conservative Republican in the state Legislature, where he voted against gay-friendly bills.

The recall petition contended West used his political office for personal benefit by offering a city internship to someone he thought was an 18-year-old man he had met in a gay online chat room and with whom he had sexually explicit chats.

One person West believed was a high school senior was actually a computer expert hired by the newspaper to snare West.

Acknowledged mistakes
West, who has not been charged with any crime, acknowledged making mistakes in his personal life but asked voters to give him a second chance.

City Council President Dennis Hession will become interim mayor until the council appoints someone to finish the two years remaining on West’s term.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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