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La Crosse has new mayor with Spence’s resignation

South Boston News
Tanner / July 12, 2017

The town of La Crosse has a new mayor as of Monday - Tom Tanner, who succeeds James “Jay” Spence with Spence’s resignation.

Spence was elected La Crosse mayor in May 2016 and began serving in that position July 1. He submitted his resignation earlier this month. It was read and accepted by council members Monday night at their regular monthly meeting.

Spence’s term has not been without controversy. At the end of July 2016, he was incarcerated for violating a protective order taken out against him by his wife. While he languished in jail, council took a “no-confidence vote.” It passed by a 4-1 margin during the August meeting.

The lone vote against the resolution calling for Spence’s resignation was cast by David Williams, who said the push by fellow council members was “premature. He [Spence] had not been found guilty of anything,” said Williams. Williams urged fellow council members to withhold judgment until September when Spence would have an opportunity to explain his actions, or if convicted, resign.

Council’s vote was symbolic, said councilman Tanner at the time — a way to signal displeasure with Spence and his inability to perform his duties as mayor while behind bars. In taking the vote, Tanner said he and other members of Council were aware that Virginia law gives the citizenry, not Council, the exclusive right to remove the mayor.

A year ago, Tanner indicated his desire to step into the role of mayor should Spence resign. Spence bested Tanner and Hendrick in a close race on for the office in the 2016 town elections. He beat Tanner by only six votes and Hendrick by 20 votes.

According the town charter, the position of mayor would have fallen to David Williams in his capacity as council president. Instead, Williams chose to resign that post on Monday night before he could be named mayor. Council members then elected Tanner as mayor and reappointed Williams as council president.

Town Clerk Tina Evans said Tanner will continue to serve until May 2018, when the town next holds municipal elections. She said council has 45 days to appoint someone to replace Tanner as a member of Council. That person must be 21 years of age and live within the town limits.

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