updated 6/13/2005 7:50:32 PM ET 2005-06-13T23:50:32

A recall petition against Mayor James E. West over a homosexual sex scandal can proceed to the signature-gathering phase, a visiting judge ruled Monday.

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Benton County Superior Court Judge Craig J. Matheson threw out two of the allegations made against West by Shannon Sullivan, a Spokane resident, but said the allegation that West improperly offered city jobs to prospective dates should be put before voters.

"That to my mind is an improper use of the office," Matheson ruled.

Twelve thousand signatures needed
Sullivan, a florist and novice political activist, now must collect more than 12,000 signatures in six months to put the recall on the ballot.

Sullivan started the recall campaign after The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that West used a city-owned computer to interact with young men on a gay Web site. She said he solicited young men to become interns "for his own personal purposes" and hurt the city's reputation.

West's lawyers, William F. Etter and Susan Troppmann, said in their 14-page brief that the recall petition should be dismissed as "vague, imprecise, conclusory, and factually and legally insufficient."

Spokane County judges recused themselves, citing West's previous work as a sheriff's deputy and his long involvement in local government and politics.

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